Should We Keep Wearing Masks Even After the Pandemic Ends?

Riding the New York City subway during cold and flu season used to test your stomach. The woman next to you was coughing. The guy behind her was sneezing. Somebody was always fishing for a tissue. That’s a distant memory now. The subway is far emptier, for one thing—and with the riders onboard almost universally wearing masks, the chorus of sniffles and coughs has been silenced. During the pandemic, the need for that policy is clear. But should the masks stay even after COVID-19 is gone? Before vaccines began rolling out to the general public, masks were among the only tools available for containing SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. And they seem to have done their job. A mask both provides the wearer a physical barrier against germs, and prevents them from exhaling potentially infectious droplets into the atmosphere, ideally cutting down on the amount of circulating virus that can infect others, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says. Areas that implemented mask mandates saw statistically significant declines in COVID-19 case counts and deaths within 20 days, according to agency data. Masks are “minimally invasive, safe, cheap, effective,” says Raina MacIntyre, a professor of global biosecurity at Australia’s University of New South Wales who has studied face masks since long before the pandemic. They’re also controversial. While masks clearly have more benefits than drawbacks during the pandemic, their p...
Source: TIME: Health - Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Tags: Uncategorized COVID-19 Source Type: news

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