This One Thing Could Prevent a Second Wave of Coronavirus, Experts Say

According to a new study, a resurgence of COVID-19 cases could be stopped with a simple tactic.

The highly contagious nature of COVID-19 has made its spread notoriously difficult to control. And as research on exactly how the virus is transmitted continues to roll in, many medical experts are convinced that there will be at least two waves of coronavirus infection before a vaccine can be developed and widely distributed. But a recent study has found that one simple thing is essential in order to avoid a devastating second spike in cases: getting as many people as possible to put on a face mask—even a simple homemade one.

While face coverings have been recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) since the early weeks of the pandemic, many officials still believed that lockdowns alone would help curb novel coronavirus cases. However, a recently released modeling study from the University of Cambridge and the University of Greenwich has found that stay at home orders alone will not slow the spread of the virus enough to prevent a surge in new cases if face masks are not included as a control measure.

A young woman and an older man are walking on street wearing face masks while others are not

Researchers say even homemade masks will drastically cut transmission rates if enough of the public adopts them, whether they are symptomatic or not. The scientists' models found that 100 percent mask use in combination with occasional stay at home and shut down orders would be enough to stop any resurgence for 18 months—which is the window needed to develop a working vaccine.

"Our analyses support the immediate and universal adoption of face masks by the public," the study's lead author, Richard Stutt, MD, of Cambridge University told Science Focus. "If widespread face mask use by the public is combined with physical distancing and some lockdown, it may offer an acceptable way of managing the pandemic and re-opening economic activity long before there is a working vaccine."

RELATED: For more up-to-date information, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Another researcher even suggested ways officials could convince face mask hold outs to finally put one on. "There is a common perception that wearing a face mask means you consider others a danger," John Colvin, PhD, study co-author and professor from the University of Greenwich, told Science Focus. "In fact, by wearing a mask you are primarily protecting others from yourself. Cultural and even political issues may stop people wearing face masks, so the message needs to be clear: 'My mask protects you, your mask protects me." And for more information on a second wave of COVID-19, check out Here's How the Second Wave of Coronavirus Could Be Even Worse.

Best Life is constantly monitoring the latest news as it relates to COVID-19 in order to keep you healthy, safe, and informed. Here are the answers to your most burning questions, the ways you can stay safe and healthy, the facts you need to know, the risks you should avoid, the myths you need to ignore,and the symptoms to be aware of. Click here for all of our COVID-19 coverage, and sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.
Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
Filed Under