By Meryl Kornfiel
Masks can protect the wearer as well others from the spread of the coronavirus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised in updated guidance Tuesday, in the agency’s strongest endorsement yet for face coverings.
Masks are able to offer “personal protection” because they filter the respiratory droplets predominantly responsible for the virus’s transmission, according to a research summary published by the agency.
The advice goes on to endorse “universal masking policies” — a contrast to President Trump’s rejection of mask mandates.
If mask-wearing increased by 15 percent in the United States, further shutdowns could be avoided, and the associated economic losses would be reduced up to $1 trillion, or about 5 percent of gross domestic product, according to an analysis cited by the CDC.
“Adopting universal masking policies can help avert future lockdowns, especially if combined with other non-pharmaceutical interventions such as social distancing, hand hygiene, and adequate ventilation,” the CDC wrote.
Public health experts have long recommended face coverings to prevent the spread of the virus to other people. But mounting scientific evidence has shown that those who wear masks are also less at risk of becoming infected.
“Recent data has now shown that as a matter of fact, there’s also the added benefit to protect you from droplets and virus that’s coming your way,” Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell on Tuesday. “It’s a two-way street.”