The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) rolled out new COVID-19 guidance on Tuesday stating that wearing masks can protect those around you if you are infected and protect you if you are near infected people. The agency earlier stated that wearing masks will only protect those around you; now it says that masks protect wearers as well as people around the wearer.
Cloth masks provide two-way protection according to the CDC, it will filter the air being inhaled thereby preventing particles of the virus from being inhaled, and also filter the air going out by absorbing particles of the virus before they are sent out in a breath.
According to the CDC, studies carried out to show how effective masks are in the protection against contracting the disease, revealed that masks have proven to be over 70% effective in blocking virus particles. One of the studies examined the number of clients of two infected hairstylists who will become infected. Sixty-seven customers participated in the study, they and the hairstylists wore masks, and none of them tested positive.
Another study showed that airline passengers who spent over 10 hours on board with their masks didn’t transfer the virus to other passengers. The CDC also cited other studies that revealed that several individuals who were fastidious in the use of masks avoided infections and subsequently, death.
“Enforcing a global mask mandate will help avoid future lockdowns and other strict measures, especially if we add other COVID-19 protocols such as proper handwashing, avoiding staying within 6-feet of infected people and other measures,” the agency explained.
Citing an economic analysis, the CDC explained that a 15% increase in the use of masks globally can help avoid losses of about $1 trillion. The agency described the use of masks for personal protection and source control as interdependent and “complementary” stating that the higher the number of the members of a community that adopt the use of masks, the less the infections that will be recorded in such a community.
The CDC also advised members of the public about how to select an effective cloth mask. The agency explained that effective cloth masks have many layers of cloth as well as higher thread counts. Using cloth masks with single layers and low thread counts might not be effective in filtering the particles of the virus, according to the CDC.
The CDC’s new guidance is coming as the United States exceeded 10 million cases of COVID-19 cases on Monday after hitting 9 million cases just 10 days before with about 237,000 total death tolls recorded. For five days in a row, there have been over 100,000 news cases recorded nationwide. Health care practitioners have advised that the increasing numbers are indicators of the worst phase of the pandemic.
Pfizer announced that its coronavirus vaccine produced in partnership with BioNTech, a German biotechnological company recorded an over 90% success rate in preventing infections during trials. Since the announcement, there have been speculations that the FDA will issue a EUA for the vaccine before mid-December and citizens will have access to the vaccine before the end of the year or at the latest, early next year.