COVID-19 cases are soaring all around the world. Surprisingly, many people are still wondering if face mask coronavirus protection works. Spoiler alert: Yes, they definitely help!
Do you need a refresher on why this is the case? Or do you have a ton of friends, family members, or coworkers who just don't believe in wearing face masks? Then show them this article.
The First Line of Safety In Our 'New Normal'
Over the last eight months, COVID-19 has become humanity's biggest foe. And face masks have become a symbol of safety and protection against this viral foe. Face mask protection comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Some people prefer wrapping a t-shirt or scarf around their faces. And others opt for surgical masks, N95 respirators, or neck gaiters (which, as we've recently written about, are just as effective as face masks).
One year ago, you probably would have drawn some awkward stares if you had worn a face mask in public. Back then, we weren't used to seeing this germ-impeding attire everywhere. Today, they serve as a bleak and cautionary reminder of the strange, dangerous times we find ourselves in. As governments across the globe ramp lockdown restrictions back up in response to COVID-19 outbreaks, we must all remember that wearing face masks is one of the main ways that we can help things return to normal.
Unfortunately, many people still debate about whether people should wear face mask protection or not when in public. In some places such as the United States, many prominent figures have even vocalized their refusal to wear a face mask. Many polls shine a light on the effects of this debate.
According to one survey, around 33% of Americans go out into public without wearing a mask. Another study conducted in China, Spain, and Italy discovered that 80% of respondents don face masks. And yet another poll found that the UK had the lowest adoption rates; only 36% of people wore a mask in public during the spring season. Since then, the UK government has made face mask-wearing compulsory in shops.
We understand the disparity in the survey results just mentioned. Many governments declared face mask-wearing in public to be unnecessary in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic. This was mainly due to fears that fervent demand would drive down the supply available to frontline healthcare workers or that people would gain a false sense of security. Luckily, many countries, such as the US, have reversed statements on this matter.
Why Coronavirus Face Mask Protection Matters
Do you know someone who's against wearing face masks? If so, then this question probably sounds all too familiar: Does coronavirus face mask protection actually make a difference? The short answer? It sure does. But let's back this up with some key facts.
The only countries that have managed to flatten their coronavirus curves have encouraged widespread face mask use. Let's explore how COVID-19 spreads to elucidate why this is the case. Once COVID-19 has infected someone, it hijacks their cells to replicate. As it multiples, coronavirus particles burst out of these cells and float in the bodily fluids of the infected person's lungs, nose, and mouth.
If you're infeected, every cough, sneeze, or word you utter releases showers of COVID-19 droplets into the air. A single cough can yield as much as 3000 droplets. And, while the Duke University study on neck gaiters got a lot wrong about these fabric face coverings, one thing they did get right was that humans can release thousands of droplets just by saying phrases like "Stay healthy."
Once these tiny droplet particles leave our mouths or noses, many of them quickly settle on surfaces within proximity. The smaller ones actually can remain suspended in the air for hours, where they can be breathed in and repeat the infection cycle in a new host. There are even reports that the coronavirus can spread through building ventilation systems. With that said, it's never a bad idea to leave a window open for an hour or two in a room you suspect may be infected with COVID-19 droplets.
Don't Be Sorry — Be Safe
COVID-19 has been found to survive in aerosol droplets for at least three hours. A more recent study has even suggested that the COVID-19 virus is still infectious after being suspended in aerosol droplets for more than 16 hours. The researchers found that it was "remarkably resilient in aerosol form" compared to other iterations of the coronavirus.
All of this hints that the virus can still pose a serious threat to people even if it has been lingering in the air for several hours. To make matters worse, these particles seem to be particularly prone to spreading through the air in indoor environments. In several analyses, this applied whether the transmission environment was a person's home, a restaurant, a shop, a movie theater, or public transit. A study of air samples for a Florida hospital even found COVID-19 particles to be present in the air almost 16 feet away from infected patients.
We know how scary all of this sounds. The point is to please wear face mask protection. If not for yourself, then at least do it for your family and friends. We know how uncomfortable they can feel, especially after long hours. But we must remember: We're all in this together. The world will only beat the coronavirus pandemic if we stand against it together.
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