In a new set of mask-wearing guidelines released last week, the CDC has primarily stated that wearing a mask doesn’t just protect those surrounding the wearers, but it also protects the wearers themselves. This is an expansion of their previous guideline which stated wearing a face mask can protect others.
Based on conclusive research, the CDC has now determined that wearing a mask can help protect you, not just those around you, from coronavirus transmission. The statement was an expansion to the previous guidance suggesting the main benefit of mask-wearing was to help prevent infected people from spreading the virus to others.
Reacting to the change, Dr. Anthony Fauci, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director, said “It’s a two-way street. You protect others, their mask protects you, and your mask also protects you.”
The CDC has claimed in its new guidance that- cloth masks act as “source control” to block virus particles exhaled by the wearer and provide “filtration for personal protection” by blocking incoming infectious droplets from others. The CDC said early research supports community masking to lower virus spread, particularly when it’s estimated that more than half of transmissions stem from asymptomatic people.
The agency also explained the filtration power of masks, writing: “Studies demonstrate that cloth mask materials can also reduce wearers’ exposure to infectious droplets through filtration, including filtration of fine droplets and particles less than 10 microns.”
With the new guidance, the CDC also gave a passing reference regarding several types of research, including an instance where mask-wearing prevented two coronavirus infected, symptomatic hairstylists from spreading the virus to at least 67 clients, and another case in which 1,000 people in Thailand who wore masks during “high-risk exposures” dropped their chance of infection by 70%.
Citing an economic study that had been conducted, the CDC found that a 15% increase in universal masking could prevent losses of up to $1 trillion.
“Adopting universal masking policies can help avert future lockdowns, especially if combined with other non-pharmaceutical interventions such as social distancing, hand hygiene, and adequate ventilation. The relationship between source control and personal protection is likely complementary and possibly synergistic so that individual benefit increases with increasing community mask use,” the CDC said.