In the spring of 2020, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended wearing reusable cloth masks in public settings to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus. As the weather warms up and cases of COVID-19 begin to level off, it may be tempting to take off that pesky cloth covering. Here are some statistics to consider before undoing those loops.
While roughly half of the individuals diagnosed with coronavirus are asymptomatic, the virus can still be transmitted via droplets of mucus or saliva that remain on surfaces.1
Wearing a cloth mask is a two-way street. If you are asymptomatic, you can protect others from contracting COVID-19 by containing virus-carrying droplets that you might release from a sneeze or cough, and vice versa.2
Face coverings make it more difficult to touch your eyes, nose, and mouth, which decreases the risk of ingesting infectious particles that might be present on your hands.
It is also important to remember that reusable face masks are only effective when used in combination with frequent hand washing with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer or soap and water.3 Additionally, the World Health Organization recommends that you wash your mask at least every day, ideally after each use.
- Gandhi M, Yokoe D, Havlir D. Asymptomatic Transmission, the Achilles’ Heel of Current Strategies to Control Covid-19. N Engl J Med. 2020; 382:2158-2160.
- Recommendation Regarding the Use of Cloth Face Coverings, Especially in Areas of Significant Community-Based Transmission. Center for Disease Control and Prevention website. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/cloth-face-cover.html. Updated April 3, 2020. Accessed May 30, 2020.
- Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) advice for the public: When and how to use masks. The World Health Organization website. Accessed May 30, 2020.