Coronavirus: Do masks do any good?

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) is currently not recommending that people wear face masks to protect themselves from COVID-19.  The CDC recommends face masks if an individual has SYMPTOMS of COVID-19, to prevent the spread to others.

Part of the reason for the CDC’s recommendation is that there is concern of a shortage of face masks for health care professionals who care caring for COVID-19 patients.  In many countries, face masks are being purchased on-line and hoarded, resulting in shortages.  Face masks are also selling for exorbitant prices due to demand.  There is a special type of mask called N95 respirators, used by healthcare workers, and there is a particular concern that these will run out.

However, we do know that COVID-19 is spread by respiratory droplet.  So if someone sneezes or coughs, and a droplet lands in your mouth or nose, then you can catch the virus.  The virus can also be transmitted if you touch a surface with a respiratory droplet on it, then touch your nose or face.

Current recommendations at this time are frequent hand-washing, and not touching your face or nose.  While there are no high-quality studies at this time for COVID-19 and face mask use, at this time there is not an official recommendation to wear a mask if you do not have symptoms.


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