Do Face Masks Really Protect From COVID-19?
The most popular question in the last two months for many people centers around one question: Do face masks really protect me from sickness and viral diseases?
What does the Center of Disease Control and Prevention Say?
As recently as March 31st, 2020, the Center of Disease Control and Prevention is considering altering the official guidance to encourage people to take measures to cover their faces amid the worldwide pandemic.
The Human Touch
The virus is believed to spread mainly from person-to-person. These interactions can be attributed to close contact with another person (about 6ft), through respiratory droplets (think sneezing, coughing, laughing, speaking). These droplets can land in your mouth, nose, or ear and cause infections or sickness.
Your best strategy is to refrain from being in close contact with others and certainly avoid anyone who may be symptomatic of the illness or any other flu-like conditions.
Surfaces and objects
It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by brushing their hand or other part of their body on an object or surface that has the virus on it. Be sure to always disinfect your hands when in public space to avoid risk.
How easy the virus spreads from one individual to another can vary wildly. This can based on a number of factors such as age and health. If you are concerned about your risk to infection, it's better to err on the side of caution and take heed of your local government recommendations.
The virus certainly seems to be spreading more easily in large gatherings and in community settings. It is advisable to avoid visiting any public spaces or groups of individuals. "Community Spread" can be more dangerous in areas with already high amounts of infections.
The infection rate of COVID-19
According to NPR, the infection rate is about 3 times as infectious as the flu. Wearing a face mask is certainly not a guaranteed assurance you won't get sick but with information learned, masks are effective at capturing droplets, which is a main transmission route of coronavirus, and some studies have estimated a roughly fivefold protection versus no barrier alone (although others have found lower levels of effectiveness).
If you are likely to be in close contact with someone infected, a mask cuts the chance of the disease being passed on.
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