Masks serve a number of purposes, such as:
- Protecting medical staff from patient diseases
- Protecting patients from diseases around them
- Protecting the general public from each other
Countries that have normalized mask use for its entire population have had drastically slower spread of disease (the thing we’re all locked in our homes to try and do).
Wearing a simple cheap face mask alone can reduce your changes of spreading the disease by around 50%, which seems like a no-brainer to me. The recommendations that the US government has made about not using masks has been done in order to prevent a run on masks that might have resulted in a shortage for the medical staff who need them. Now that production of masks has increased greatly, we are hoping that we can begin normalizing routine mask use in the US in the near future. A 50% reduction in contagion will definitely help us to flatten the curve.
This chart from Masks Save Lives demonstrates this effect:
Here is a great public service announcement from the Czech Republic:
As soon as masks are available more widely, please start wearing them when out. If you have COVID-19, wear them now.
Updates since original posting:
- 3/28: Washington Post: Simple DIY masks could help flatten the curve. We should all wear them in public.
- While the supply of regular medical masks is low, this is the best plan. Hopefully the supply will increase to the point where the medical masks become widely available. We like the fabric designs have pockets that can hold filter material to add additional protection.
- 3/29: Buzzfeed: Coronavirus Cases Have Surged, But The US Is Refusing To Take The World’s Most Available Masks
- KN95 masks about half the price of N-95 masks, are functionally almost identical, and have been approved by the CDC to use when N-95 masks are not available. They need to let them in.
- 3/29: NPR: ‘Project Airbridge’ To Expedite Arrival Of Needed Supplies, White House Says
- This is what we need more of… creative problem-solving using available resources quickly
- 03/31: The Hill: CDC may urge Americans to cover faces in public: report