Wearing Even Homemade Masks Could Bring Covid-19 “Under Control”

(p. A6) Face masks are emerging as one of the most powerful weapons to fight the novel coronavirus, with growing evidence that facial coverings help prevent transmission—even if an infected wearer is in close contact with others.

Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said he believes the pandemic could be brought under control over the next four to eight weeks if “we could get everybody to wear a mask right now.” His comments, made Tuesday [July 14, 2020] with the Journal of the American Medical Association, followed an editorial he and others wrote there emphasizing “ample evidence” of asymptomatic spread and highlighting new studies showing how masks help reduce transmission.

. . .

Researchers from around the world have found wearing even a basic cloth face covering is more effective in reducing the spread of Covid-19 than wearing nothing at all. And many are now examining the possibility that masks might offer some personal protection from the virus, despite initial thinking that they mostly protect others.

. . .

“It was surprising in a good way to see that a homemade mask could do so well . . . that we don’t have to get a very fancy mask,” Dr. Verma said.

. . .

Wearing a mask is “one of the most urgent things we can do to get our country under control,” said Melanie Ott, director of the Gladstone Institute of Virology. “We’re all waiting for the vaccine, we’re waiting for therapeutics, and we’re not there.”

For the full story, see:

Caitlin McCabe. “Evidence Mounts That Masks Help Curb Infections.” The Wall Street Journal (Monday, July 19, 2020): A6.

(Note: ellipses between passages, and bracketed date, added. Ellipsis internal to passage, in original.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date July 18, 2020, and has the title “Face Masks Really Do Matter. The Scientific Evidence Is Growing.”)

The editorial in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), mentioned above, is:

Brooks, John T., Jay C. Butler, and Robert R. Redfield. “Universal Masking to Prevent Sars-CoV-2 Transmission—the Time Is Now.” JAMA (published online, in advance of print, on July 14, 2020).

Some of the new evidence supporting the use of masks can be found in the following two academic articles:

Verma, Siddhartha, Manhar Dhanak, and John Frankenfield. “Visualizing the Effectiveness of Face Masks in Obstructing Respiratory Jets.” Physics of Fluids 32, no. 6 (published online on June 30, 2020).

Wang, Xiaowen, Enrico G. Ferro, Guohai Zhou, Dean Hashimoto, and Deepak L. Bhatt. “Association between Universal Masking in a Health Care System and Sars-Cov-2 Positivity among Health Care Workers.” JAMA (published online, in advance of print, on July 14, 2020).

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