The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and health experts recommend that people always wear face masks in public places. It mainly aims to prevent spreading droplets carrying the novel coronavirus but experts said facial coverings may also cut your risk of getting it.
Dean Blumberg, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at the University of California Davis Children’s Hospital, and William Ristenpart, a professor of chemical engineering at U.C. Davis College of Engineering, hosted a livestream discussion on effective ways to avoid COVID-19. The two experts cited growing evidence of protection that masks provide to both wearer and people around.
“On the issue of masks, I’d like to restart—because we’ve learned a lot,” Blumberg said. “We’ve learned more due to research and additional scientific evidence. What we know now is that masks work and are very important.”
The discussion highlighted a recent study that suggested people who wear face masks are 65 percent less likely to catch the novel coronavirus. Blumberg and Ristenpart explained that facial coverings protect people in two ways, Futurity reported Tuesday.
First, masks create an effective barrier that prevents an infected person from releasing virus-carrying droplets into the air through cough, sneeze or talking.
“People who don’t wear a mask increase the risk of transmission to everyone, not just the people they come into contact with. It’s all the people those people will have contact with,” Blumberg said. “You’re being an irresponsible member of the community if you’re not wearing a mask. It’s like double-dipping in the guacamole. You’re not being nice to others.”
The second way face masks help protect people is by blocking very tiny aerosol particles released when people talk. Blumberg and Ristenpart said these particles can travel beyond any physical shields, like plexiglass and cubicles, used in offices, stores and restaurants.
Ristenpart explained that aerosol particles move like the ones from perfume. If you can smell the scent from the other side of a cubicle or plexiglass, particles carrying the coronavirus might also be able to reach you.
The health experts recommended that people wear masks and practice social distancing at the same time to effectively avoid contracting or transmitting COVID-19. Blumberg said physical distancing alone could reduce the risk of exposing people to the virus by 90 percent.