Wearing a mask can help protect you -- not just those around you -- from coronavirus transmission, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in new guidance Tuesday.
Previous guidance from the CDC suggested 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. And 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.
“The relationship between source control and personal protection is likely complementary and possibly synergistic, so that individual benefit increases with increasing community mask use."
The agency cited an economic analysis that found a 15% increase in universal masking could prevent losses of up to $1 trillion. It also said that some cloth masks are nearly as good as surgical masks at blocking droplets.