Wearing a mask can help protect you, not just those around you, from coronavirus transmission, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in new guidance Tuesday. The statement was an update to previous guidance suggesting the main benefit of mask wearing was to help prevent infected people from spreading the virus to others.
Cloth masks act as “source control” to block virus particles exhaled by the wearer and provide “filtration for personal protection” by blocking incoming infectious droplets from others, the CDC said in its new guidance.
The new guidance cites a number of studies showing that masks reduce the risk of transmitting or catching the virus by more than 70% in various instances. One study revealed mutual mask-use helped prevent two infected hair stylists from transmitting the virus to 67 clients who were later interviewed. Another followed infected people who spent more than 10 hours on flights without infecting other passengers when masks were used.
In several scenarios, when officials told people to wear masks, infections and deaths fell significantly, the CDC pointed out.
“Adopting universal masking policies can help avert future lockdowns, especially if combined with other non-pharmaceutical interventions such as social distancing, hand hygiene, and adequate ventilation,” the CDC said.