Face Masks at Home Reduce COVID-19 Risk, Study Says

By | May 29, 2020

Masks are becoming more accepted, and sometimes required, in the United States.

When the coronavirus first came to the United States, federal officials said face masks weren’t necessary for people who weren’t sick.

But as the number of cases rose, the Trump administration performed an about-face. In early April, the administration urged Americans to start wearing masks when they couldn’t social distance, though President Trump said he wouldn’t wear one.

Two Emory University doctors on Thursday discussed how face masks have become more important and accepted.

“We’ve come full circle on this,” Colleen Kraft, MD, associate chief medical officer at Emory University, said during a media briefing. “Initially we’ve thought that there may not necessarily be a change to the spread of the transmission with the mask, but we really feel like now that there’s an aspect of protection and an aspect of a reminder of social distancing when you are wearing a mask, so we do recommend that individuals wear masks.”

Kraft said, “My mask protects me and protects others.”

Carlos del Rio, MD, distinguished professor of medicine, epidemiology and global health at Emory University, noted that the mask “acts almost as a visual reminder that something is going on. Since you don’t see the virus, you tend to think that it’s no longer here. This is just a way of reminding ourselves that, yes, the virus is still here and I need to do something about it.”

Health experts in the United States have come out strong for masks in public, but not in the home.

“We now have really clear evidence that wearing masks works — it’s probably a 50% protection against transmission,” Chris Murray, MD, director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, or IHME, at the University of Washington, told CNN.

Anthony Fauci, MD, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, told CNN that wearing masks and washing hands “are the things that everybody should seriously consider doing.”

Local and state leaders are embracing face masks.

On Thursday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he’ll sign an executive order allowing private businesses to bar people who don’t wear face masks. “The store owner has the right to protect himself,” Cuomo said at a news briefing.

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