Wearing a mask not only protects those in close proximity of the mask wearer from the novel coronavirus, but can also protect the wearer themselves, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now says.
The CDC announced its new findings in a scientific brief, published Tuesday, which referenced data collected from eight different studies on mask-wearing, including one that surveyed 200 countries including the U.S.
“Masks are primarily intended to reduce the emission of virus-laden droplets,” the CDC said.
This could be especially helpful for pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic carriers of the virus, which the CDC said is “estimated to account for more than 50 per cent of transmissions.”
The CDC goes on to say more is being learned about benefits to mask wearers, as well.
“Studies demonstrate that cloth mask materials can also reduce wearers’ exposure to infectious droplets through filtration.”
According to the CDC, multi-layer cloth masks can block up to 50 and 70 per cent of bacterial particles and droplets. In certain studies, they’ve been found to block upwards of 80 per cent of all respiratory droplets, even “performing on par with surgical masks as barriers for source control.”
Multiple layers of cloth with higher thread counts work better than single layers of cloth with lower thread counts, the CDC said, “in some cases filtering nearly 50 per cent of fine particles less than one micron.”
Canadian public health guidelines recommend wearing a non-medical mask or face coverage “to protect yourself and others.” While it’s recommended that those at high risk of severe illness wear a mask, federal guidelines don’t explicitly say that masks will protect the wearer.
“Well-designed and well-fitting masks or face coverings can prevent the spread of your infectious respiratory droplets,” the Government of Canada said on its website.
“They may also help protect you from the infectious respiratory droplets of others.”
Global News has reached out to the Public Health Agency of Canada regarding the CDC’s updated guidelines on masks and is awaiting a response.
The CDC update also includes an economic analysis using U.S. data that found if more of the population wore masks, the country could reduce the need for lockdowns, which would in turn help the economy.
“Given these effects, increasing universal masking by 15 per cent could prevent the need for lockdowns and reduce associated losses of up to $1 trillion or about five per cent of gross domestic product,” the CDC said.
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