Updated: Feb 28
The Covid-19 pandemic could be brought under control over the next four to eight weeks if “we could get everybody to wear a mask right now,” Robert Redfield, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said.
Redfield’s comments come amid growing evidence that face masks are one of the most powerful weapons to fight Covid-19.
A case study by Australian researchers published in the journal Thorax found that a three-ply surgical mask made of nonwoven material noticeably reduced droplets dispersed while speaking, coughing and sneezing.
Another study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggested that universal use of surgical masks helped reduce rates of confirmed coronavirus infections among health-care workers at the Mass General Brigham health-care system in Massachusetts.
Yet another research published in the journal Physics of Fluids by researchers at Florida Atlantic University found that, of the readily accessible facial coverings they studied, a well-fitted homemade stitched mask comprising two layers of cotton quilting fabric was most effective for reducing the forward spread of droplets. The co-authors of the study are among the many researchers who are now examining the possibility that masks might offer some personal protection from the virus, despite initial thinking that they mostly protect others.
Masks are an ‘urgent’ measure
Meanwhile, Melanie Ott, director of the Gladstone Institute of Virology, said that wearing a mask is “one of the most urgent things we can do to get our country under control. We’re all waiting for the vaccine, we’re waiting for therapeutics, and we’re not there.”
The CDC said the use of cloth face coverings while in public in the United States increased to 76.4% in mid-May, compared with 61.9% in April, according to internet surveys sent to roughly 500 adults each month.
Experts caution that widespread masking doesn’t eliminate the need to follow other recommendations, like frequent hand washing and social distancing.