NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. health officials are taking a new tack in the coronavirus fight by emphasizing recent research that finds a mask protects the person who wears it.
Previously, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised masks because of medical evidence that it stops people who are infected with coronavirus — whether they know it or not — from spreading it to others.
But this week the CDC posted on its Web site a scientific brief discussing recent studies finding that a wearer gets some protection even if an infected person has no mask.
The brief added that adopting a universal masking policy, "can help avert future lockdowns, especially if combined with other non-pharmaceutical interventions such as social distancing, hand hygiene, and adequate ventilation."
"Experimental and epidemiological data support community masking to reduce the spread of SARS-CoV-2. The prevention benefit of masking is derived from the combination of source control and personal protection for the mask wearer. The relationship between source control and personal protection is likely complementary and possibly synergistic, so that individual benefit increases with increasing community mask use," the brief read.
Researchers pointed to the coronavirus outbreak on the USS Theodore Roosevelt as an example of the effectiveness of mask-wearing, saying, "use of face coverings on-board was associated with a 70% reduced risk."
The brief said more research is needed to identify combinations of materials used for face coverings to maximize blocking and filtering effectiveness, as well as durability and comfort.