Can Face Masks Really Decrease the Infection Rate?

The lockdown period in several cities have come to an end in different countries of the world and everyday life routine has resumed. This routine, however, is not the same as how it used to be for people in pre-COVID times. There are very important instructions from CDC and WHO health specialists to be followed during this phase of the pandemic without which the risk of contracting the virus goes really high for us. Apart from social distancing, hand washing, limiting outdoor trips, there is another very important direction from the medics and that is the mandatory use of face masks.

Are you still confused about face masks?

Now, even though the majority of the doctors across the globe have suggested and emphasized on using face masks, there is still some confusion among the masses that remains. Do face masks really help? Are they effective? Are they really slowing down the infection rate? Or adding to it? It has been months since the pandemic began but studies and speculations are still being made to find a conclusive answer to these questions. We think part of the reason for this confusion is that both CDC and WHO recommended not to use masks initially but later asked to do the opposite. If you happen to be on the same boat questioning the efficiency of face masks, we think it’s time to read into scientific reasoning to be able to have an opinion on this.

What caused the infection:

The initial CDC instructions about face masks were partly based on how it would help lower the prevalence of the infection. It was thought to be not so effective as a result of insufficient testing. Another concern was the short supply of masks which lead to the insufficiency of masks for medical professionals. It was deemed more important to save these face masks for them. This lead to the prevention of nuanced messaging about the benefits of wearing masks. This should not have happened at all. Another factor that contributed to not wearing masks in the U.S. is that the people were not culturally ready to accept wearing masks. The behavior was extremely reckless on their part and lead to severe consequences.

Evidence that face masks are effective

Several studies support the effectiveness of face masks in reducing the rate of the infection. One of them comes from the laboratory research of respiratory droplets of humans and the ability of face masks that block them. One experiment in which a high-speed video was made use of to observe hundreds of respiratory droplets which ranged from 20 to 500 micrometers were expelled out of the mouth while uttering a very simple sentence. The results from the experiment showed that nearly all these droplets were blocked and contained when the mouth was covered by a damp cloth.

Because it would be unethical to conduct comparative studies by assigning people to not wear masks and risking them in the process, a lot of evidence is taken from the real-world scenario. A recent study compares the prevalence rate of the disease in 15 states before and after the mask mandates. It was found that there was a decrease in the growth rate of the virus. The growth rate decreased by 0.9 percentage points after the first five days of the mandate as compared to the five days before the mandate. The daily growth rate was positively decreased by 2 percentage points after three weeks.

Another study looked at the number of deaths caused by coronavirus across 198 countries. It was found that the countries which had cultural norms or government policies supporting face covering had comparatively lower death rates. Two other reports suggested the same. In one of these two cases, a man flew from China to Toronto and was tested positive for the virus. He had some symptoms and wore a face mask during his flight. The twenty-five people on board which were closest to him were all tested for COVID-19 and the results came out negative. The other case from early May involved two hairstylists from Missouri. They came in contact with around 140 clients while being sick with the virus. The hairstylists, as well as the clients, all wore masks and as a result, none of the clients had positive results for the disease.

It is often asked whether masks protect the people wearing them or the people around them. The answer is that it works both ways. The major function of the mask is to source control. They block the respiratory droplets of the virus carriers but you will still benefit from it if you are wearing the mask. In case of not wearing a mask, these large droplets evaporate into smaller droplets that travel further and farther. Moreover, these droplets remain in the air as aerosols for some white which poses a danger to the surrounding people.

This explains why masks are important to control the spread of COVID-19 and how it has helped many cities limit the damage. Not wearing one while being outdoors or around people endangers not just your life but also puts others’ at stake too. Make sure you and your family have a couple of masks always at hand because one cannot afford to run out of them during these times. In case you are short of face masks, head over to to order some right away for great quality products. Take care of yourself and your loved ones before you step out into the new world.

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