Masks are “critical” in controlling the spread of coronavirus — and that includes at home sometimes, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday.
A CDC review of what works makes it clear that mask use, physical distancing, avoiding crowds and washing hands all could help control the spread of the virus – and would allow kids to go back to school and businesses to reopen.
“Consistent and correct use of face masks is a public health strategy critical to reducing respiratory transmission of SARS-CoV-2, particularly in light of estimates that approximately one half of new infections are transmitted by persons who have no symptoms,” the CDC summary of guidance reads.
The CDC has gradually been strengthening its recommendations on mask use. “Compelling evidence now supports the benefits of cloth face masks for both source control (to protect others) and, to a lesser extent, protection of the wearer,” the team wrote.
Masks work so well that certain communities should consider giving them out, the CDC team said.
“A community-level plan for distribution of face masks to specific populations, such as those who might experience barriers to access, should be developed,” the CDC team wrote in the agency’s weekly report.
“Because the highest risk for transmission has been documented among household contacts of Covid-19 patients, keeping the household safe requires physical distancing, using the other public health strategies summarized here, and, in particular, consistent and correct use of face masks (outside the household and in some circumstances within the household) to prevent introduction and transmission of SARS-CoV-2,” they added.
Physical distancing is also important.
“Although the impact of physical distancing is difficult to disaggregate from other interventions, one study estimated that physical distancing decreased the average number of daily contacts by as much as 74%,” they added. Consistent physical distancing could stop the spread, the CDC said.