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New UCSD finding: Wearing masks significantly curbs spread of COVID-19

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Posted at 5:55 PM, Jun 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-19 18:36:14-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV)-- Beginning Thursday, wearing masks has become a state mandate. A new study out of the University of California, San Diego, suggests the best way to curb the spread of coronavirus is by wearing a mask.

In a UCSD campus-released article titled "To wear a mask or not, is not the question; Research indicates it's the answer," Chemistry Nobel Laureate and UCSD Professor Mario Molina shows the data does not lie.

"Let's work with the scientists," Molina said. "Let's work together with society!"

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He and a team of scientists at CALTECH and Texas A&M looked at the world's three COVID-19 epicenters: Wuhan, Italy, and New York City. They studied each area's attempts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, including shelter in place, social distancing, and wearing facial coverings.

Their study showed, in Wuhan, where mask-wearing is part of the culture, the spread was relatively slow. But in Italy, even after the lockdown, positive cases continued to climb. Additionally, despite the stay-at-home order in New York City, numbers continued to rise.

A pivotal point of the study was when they looked at the numbers in Italy and New York after their respective mask mandates went into effect on April 6, 2020, and April 17, 2020. It was only then that the spread of viral air particles slowed drastically.

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"It changes. It's no longer straight. It goes downwards," Professor Molina said, referring to the curve on the bar graph.

The professor reminds people that this does not mean to ignore all the other health measures.

"We are not saying using masks is the only thing that matters, no," Professor Molina said. "What we have in the paper is, everything is added to social distancing and to quarantine."

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Professor Molina says California's new facemask mandate is similar to government regulations on air pollution but on a much personal scale. In this case, you are the car, and COVID-19 is pollution. He says he is hopeful that with the mandate, the numbers in California will decline.

"We tell people, 'Hey, it's a good idea to wear face masks. You protect your family, and you protect yourself!'" Molina said.

Molina says a secondary research paper analyzing mask mandates in different states will be published in the coming weeks.