The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is urging Americans to put on cloth face masks whenever they step outside of their homes to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
In a statement issued on July 14, the CDC discussed two case studies, one within a Boston hospital system and the other in a Missouri hair salon, which showed that adherence to wearing cloth masks helped prevent spread of the virus. Public officials, local and federal, have been urging residents to wear masks to stem the virus’ steady resurgence over the last few weeks.
The Boston case study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), provided evidence that face coverings were able to prevent the transmission of the virus from patients to health care workers in “the largest health care system in Massachusetts with more than 75,000 employees.” According to the researchers, before implementation of universal masking policy in late March, COVID-19 infections caused by direct and indirect contact increased from 0 percent to 21.3 percent. After masks were put on, transmissions steadily diminished, from 14.7 percent to 11.5 percent.
The other study, reported in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, showed that a masking policy helped prevent the transmission of COVID-19 from two disease-positive hair stylists in Missouri to their clients. None of the 67 clients who were tested for COVID-19 were positive.
“We are not defenseless against COVID-19,” CDC Director Robert R. Redfield, MD, said in the statement. “Cloth face coverings are one of the most powerful weapons we have to slow and stop the spread of the virus – particularly when used universally within a community setting. All Americans have a responsibility to protect themselves, their families, and their communities.”
Based on the latest World Health Organization data, the U.S. remains the epicenter of the pandemic with 3,344,783 confirmed cases to date. Worldwide, more than 13 million people have the virus, and more than one-half million deaths have been documented thus far.