(Gray News) - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to support community mask use, now saying the policy can protect both the wearer and those around them from COVID-19.
The CDC said Tuesday in updated guidance that cloth masks are able to block virus particles exhaled by the wearer as well as block incoming infectious droplets from others. Previously, it was believed that mask wearing helped only to prevent infected people from spreading the virus to others.
The agency cited a number of studies that found masks reduce the transmission of the virus by more than 70 percent in some instances.
One study revealed mutual mask use helped prevent two infected hair stylists from transmitting the virus to 67 clients who were later interviewed. Another followed infected people who spent more than 10 hours on flights without infecting other passengers when masks were used.
The CDC pointed out that in several scenarios, when officials told people to wear masks, infections and deaths fell significantly. In addition, one analysis indicates increasing community mask use by 15% in the U.S. could prevent the need for lockdowns and associated economic troubles.
The U.S. hit a record number of coronavirus hospitalizations Tuesday and surpassed 1 million new confirmed cases in just the first 10 days of November, according to the Associated Press.
After he was briefed on the virus, President-elect Joe Biden spoke out Monday in favor of mask wearing, a departure from President Donald Trump.
“We could save tens of thousands of lives if everyone would just wear a mask for the next few months. Not Democratic or Republican lives, American lives,” Biden said. “Please, I implore you, wear a mask.”
The CDC currently recommends masks that have multiple layers of cloth with higher thread counts. It also encourages the continued use of other preventative measures, such as social distancing and hand washing.