Do We Still Need to Wear Masks?
The short answer is yes, we still need to wear masks. Face coverings play an important role in reducing the spread of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. Now is not the time to let down our guard. With three safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines now available to the public, we are well on our way to reducing the risk SARS-CoV-2 poses to Americans. But it will require continued vigilance for us to reach herd immunity.
Masks are a simple but effective tool employers and employees can use to fight the pandemic.
CDC recommends that individuals wear a mask or face covering outside the home or in group settings. And many businesses now require their employees and customers wear a mask in their establishments because they recognize the importance of stopping community spread.
Under new federal rules, all travelers are required to wear masks on planes, buses, trains and other forms of public transportation because these simple protective measures have been shown to reduce the risk that the wearer will transmit the virus or become infected.
A study that examined infection rates in states that mandated masks suggests more than 200,000 cases were averted from March 31-May 22, 2020 because of these policies.
Use of face coverings by sailors on the USS Theodore Roosevelt, an aircraft carrier with tight workspaces, was associated with a 70% reduced risk of infection.
Another study, which examined a high-exposure event involving two hairstylists who worked with 139 clients while infected, suggests that universal masking policies prevented further spread of the virus in the salon.
Mask requirements protect our health and our economy.
COVID-19 Vaccination and Masks
After receiving full vaccination against COVID-19, a person can still be infected with the virus but not feel sick or have any symptoms. For this reason, we must continue wearing face coverings, even after vaccination, to prevent spreading the virus to others who are not vaccinated.
There are many barriers to reaching herd immunity in the United States, including supply, access, having approved vaccines to administer to children, combatting vaccine hesitancy, and more. In the meantime, we must remain vigilant to stopping the spread in our communities.
Do your part. Do it for them.
How to Select a Mask
When selecting a mask, there are many choices. Here are some do's and don’ts based on CDC's latest guidance.
DO choose masks that
Have two or more layers of washable, breathable fabric
Fit snugly against the sides of your face and don’t have gaps
Completely cover your nose and mouth
Have a nose wire to prevent air from leaking out of the top of the mask
DO NOT choose masks that
Are made of fabric that makes it hard to breathe, for example, vinyl
Have exhalation valves or vents which allow virus particles to escape
SPECIAL CONSIDERATIONS: Gaiters & Face Shields
Wear a gaiter with two layers, or fold it to make two layers
Face shields are not an effective substitute for a mask