A lot of the effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus comes down to a seemingly simple concept: Wearing a mask.
But the issue has proven a thorny one. Health authorities have changed their guidance on who should wear masks and when to wear them. This has led to some confusion and even suspicion.
But since the coronavirus first appeared, authorities have gained a better understanding of how it spreads and how masks can help stop that spread.
Here’s a look at how what we know about masks has changed, and how government officials are increasingly getting behind the idea of mandating the use of masks.
WHAT DO THE EXPERTS SAY?
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has long advised people to wear masks because they help prevent people who are infected — whether they know it or not — from spreading the coronavirus.
But last week, the CDC added a new reason: masks can also protect wearers who are not infected, though to a lesser degree.
The agency referred to a study led by Japanese researchers that found masks block about 60% of the amount of virus that comes out of an infected person. When an uninfected person wearing a mask is near an infected person who isn’t wearing one, the amount of virus the uninfected person inhaled fell by up to 50%.
But when BOTH people are wearing masks, that produced the best result. The decline in virus particles reaching the second person was close to 70%.
So, if everyone wears a mask when social distancing is not feasible, the infection rate will be cut, experts say.
It’s not a perfect solution. Hand-washing, keeping a distance and being in well-ventilated areas is important.
HOW IS THIS DIFFERENT FROM WHAT THEY’VE SAID BEFORE?
U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams tweeted on Feb. 29: “Seriously people — STOP BUYING MASKS! They are NOT effective in preventing general public from catching #Coronavirus”
But today, Adams has a different message pinned to the top of his Twitter account.
“When we can’t stay six feet away from others, please, I’m begging you, wear a face covering,” Adams says in the videotaped July 2 tweet.
And in July, the CDC stressed that cloth face coverings are a critical tool in the fight against COVID-19, particularly when everyone wears them.
Similarly, the World Health Organization early on had recommended against mask-wearing for the general public, saying they might lead to a false sense of security and that people who didn’t know how to use them properly could infect themselves.
The World Health Organization changed its advice in June, and now says people should wear them when they can’t be socially distant.
Disclaimer :- This story has not been edited by The Sen Times staff and is auto-generated from news agency feeds. Source: The Associated Press