We Should All Be Wearing Masks

This story ran a few days ago in The New York Times under the headline “More Americans Should Probably Wear Masks for Protection”, but when you read halfway down the article, there’s no probably about it:

When researchers conducted systematic review of a variety of interventions used during the SARS outbreak in 2003, they found that washing hands more than 10 times daily was 55 percent effective in stopping virus transmission, while wearing a mask was actually more effective — at about 68 percent.

The masks in that study were N95 medical-grade masks, but the evidence seems clear that wearing a mask of any sort helps prevent transmission.

There is a lot of blame to go around regarding this entire pandemic — both globally and here in the U.S. — but the way that both the WHO and CDC have drummed into our heads the notion that we should not wear masks unless we’re sick is outrageously negligent. It’s not just wrong, it’s a lie. It’s nonsense to argue about the fact that wearing a mask — even a homemade one — is less than 100 percent effective. Nothing is 100 percent effective, and all evidence suggests that masks are, at the very least, quite effective.

We in the U.S. and Europe need to follow the longstanding norm in Asian countries and get past our stigmatizing of mask-wearing in public.

Wednesday, 1 April 2020