Face Masks Protect You More From COVID Than You Thought, Doctors Say

Even though they've always been touted as a way to keep others safe, they actually do wonders for you, too.

Since March, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended wearing a cloth face covering to help stop the spread of coronavirus from those infected to other people around them. But, according to new research, that face covering might be doing more to keep you safe than you previously realized. Now, medical experts are saying that your face mask actually does protect you from COVID-19, too, decreasing the risk of infection for anyone wearing one by 65 percent.

During an interview on July 2 about the effectiveness of coronavirus prevention methods, Dean Blumberg, MD, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at UC Davis Children's Hospital, and William Ristenpart, a professor of chemical engineering at UC Davis, said research shows that the virus is spread by two primary methods: aerosol particles and droplets. And, according to their findings, someone wearing a mask is more protected against the barely visible droplets that are expelled when someone talks than someone who isn't. "Wearing masks decreases the risk by 65 percent," Blumberg said.

A blonde woman wearing a face mask to stop the spread of coronavirus

"Everyone should wear a mask," he added. "People who say, 'I don't believe masks work,' are ignoring scientific evidence. It's not a belief system. It's like saying, 'I don't believe in gravity.'"

Blumberg also explained that maintaining social distance and taking activities outdoors or into well-ventilated areas is also crucial for stopping the spread, since lighter aerosol particles we can't actually see can linger in the air and infect others. "People who don't wear a mask increase the risk of transmission to everyone, not just the people they come into contact with," Blumberg said, referencing how carriers spread the virus by talking, breathing, and coughing into the air.

"You're being an irresponsible member of the community if you're not wearing a mask," he added. "It's like double-dipping in the guacamole. You're not being nice to others."

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The scientists also concluded that the combination of a face mask and social distancing made for the most effective way to protect against COVID-19, with Blumberg noting that "social distancing reduces the risk of transmitting the virus by 90 percent." And for more on who is transmitting coronavirus, check out This Is Who's Transmitting Over 50 Percent of COVID Cases, Study Finds.

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Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
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