CDC Urges Americans to Wear Face Masks
July 23, 2020
In an effort to curb COVID-19 from continuing to spread, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are once again urging Americans to wear protective facemasks and coverings. According to Robert Redfield, the CDC’s director, cloth face coverings are one of the most effective tools we have to keep viral transmission rates low. Data shows that as many as 3 out of 4 Americans are following the agency’s recommendations and doing their best to help keep their communities safe and healthy.
COVID-19 is a highly contagious respiratory disease. For the most part, Coronavirus spreads from person-to-person via respiratory droplets produced by sneezes, coughs, and talking. One person wearing a mask can make a difference – but to achieve the best results it is critical that the majority of people in a community wear protective face coverings to reduce the chances of passing the virus back and forth. This is why the CDC is calling on Americans to wear face coverings when they are in public settings and around people outside of their own household. Not everyone can wear a mask, such as children under the age of 2-years-old or individuals who have trouble breathing or are unable to remove a mask without assistance (like someone who is unconscious or otherwise incapacitated).
The Benefits of Wearing a Mask: Data from the CDC and JAMA
Two recent studies – one published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) and the other by the CDC – further confirm that facemasks and protective coverings are integral at providing “source control”. In this context, source control simply refers to how wearing a mask prevents a person from passing COVID-19 onto others. The JAMA study examined how a Boston hospital was able to greatly reduce COVID-19 from spreading between staff and patients by following mask wearing requirements. The CDC’s findings unearthed similar results: two COVID-19 positive hair stylists based out of a Missouri salon wore face coverings as they continued to see clients. More than 98% of their clients wore face coverings during their appointments, and afterwards a whopping 84% of them reported that they had not developed symptoms in the 90 days following their visits. The CDC tested nearly 50% of the clients and all came back with negative results.
This is not to say that it is safe to work if a person tests positive for COVID-19. Instead, the data illustrates just how effective it is to wear a protective face covering or mask when it comes to reducing viral transmission rates between individuals – even if they are unknowingly are carrying the virus (like in the case of the Missouri hair stylists). Not everyone who gets COVID-19 experiences symptoms. Some may develop mild symptoms, and for others they are far more severe. People with underlying medical conditions (such as lung disease, heart disease, or diabetes) are more likely to experience potentially life-threatening complications than others. If symptoms are present, they can take between 2 and 14 days after exposure to appear.
Signs and Symptoms
According to the CDC, some of the most common signs and symptoms of COVID-19 are:
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- New loss of taste or smell
- Muscle or body aches
- Sore throat
- Runny nose or congestion
- Nausea or vomiting
The CDC recommends that if you are experiencing severe (but not life-threatening) symptoms to call your doctor. If someone is experiencing chest pain or pressure, confusion, the inability to wake up or stay awake, bluish lips or face, or is having trouble breathing, call 9-1-1 right away. It is also important to remember that if you suspect you may have COVID-19 to stay away from public spaces. Try to avoid other people in your household as much as possible, and if you do need to be around another person, make sure that you wear a face covering. If you would like to learn more about the CDC’s recommendations on protective face masks and coverings, visit: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/cloth-face-cover-guidance.html.
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