Masking Questions: As the United States begins one of the toughest weeks yet in regards to battling the coronavirus, the debate over whether or not the public should use masks is being reevaluated. In a reversal of original guidelines, President Trump on Friday advocated the necessity of wearing coverings in public to curb the spread of the disease. While Trump said he himself would not choose to do it, even though “it may be good” advice, other government leaders—including Colorado Gov. Jared Polis pictured below—decided to back the facial blockers. Here’s each side of the story:
On one hand, some senior administration officials thought that pushing the widespread use of masks might cause unnecessary panic. Additionally, guidelines originally set by the CDC and WHOdiscouraged the use of masks unless an individual is ill or caring for someone who is potentially infected. On February 29th, Surgeon General Jerome M. Adams implored the public to stop buying masks, saying they weren’t an effective form of prevention for average members of the public. Currently, it’s thought that a person is more likely to get infected by touching contaminated surfaces compared to inhaling droplets in the air. Moreover, the intention behind the initial recommendations was to conserve the depleted supply of masks for essential healthcare workers.
Then, last week, the CDC had a change of heart and decided to update its guidance to recommend widespread community use. New evidence is showing that as much as 25 percent of those who are infected are asymptomatic. The staggering number has alarmed health officials who are concerned that asymptomatic individuals are unknowingly spreading the virus at a high rate. The new recommendation for people to wear facial-coverings in public represents a major change in CDC guidance.
Flag This: Dr. Anthony Fauci has also recommended the use of cloth masks or some form of facial-covering, citing new evidence that the virus can be spread simply by talking. It’s important to note, however, that wearing a mask is not a substitute for social distancing. One final point involves a 2013 study illustrating a threefold reduction in how much the influenza virus was sprayed into the air when a mask is worn. While these findings don’t necessarily correspond to COVID-19, it points to the benefits of nose and mouth coverings while we attempt to stop the spread of the virus.