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CDC: Masks Offer More Protection Than We Thought

Agency says masks also protect wearers from COVID-19
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 11, 2020 11:35 AM CST

(Newser) – Evidence has pointed for some time to the fact that face masks can cut down on the risk of you spreading the coronavirus to others if you're infected. Now the CDC says masks do even more: The health agency says a face covering can protect you as well, reports CNN. In updated guidance posted on its site Tuesday, the CDC notes that not only do cloth masks—especially multilayered ones with high thread counts—serve as a "source control" to keep both large and small respiratory droplets from being transmitted, but that the face coverings also offer "filtration" to protect wearers from breathing infectious droplets in. The data shows that in some cases, cloth masks performed as effectively as surgical masks when used in a source control capacity.

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The CDC cites several studies that back up the effectiveness of "community masking," including one that looked at a "high-exposure event" in a hair salon where, even though two workers were sick, both they and the clients wore masks, and none of 67 clients interviewed came down with the virus. MarketWatch reports the CDC also noted the economic strides that can come through mask-wearing: The agency in its guidance cited an economic analysis that found that upping universal masking by 15% would prevent $1 trillion in losses. "Adopting universal masking policies can help avert future lockdowns, especially if combined with other nonpharmaceutical interventions such as social distancing, hand hygiene, and adequate ventilation," the CDC notes. (Read more face masks stories.)

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