Can wearing a face mask prevent COVID-19? Expert Opinion

Below are some pertinent commentaries extracted from the discuss of experts in field of medicine and health care as touching the above question.

Peter Howell (PhD in Analytical Chemistry & Physical Chemistry, Florida State University)

  • If you are a trained medical professional who knows how to use it, and how to behave while wearing it, then a face mask is an important piece of personal protection.
  • If you are an average citizen who puts on a face mask and then goes about your normal activities, then studies have shown clearly that the have no effect your chances of catching a disease. They don’t provide protection under these circumstances and you’re basically wasting an important resource that the professionals need right now. 
  • If you already have the virus, it’s an effective way of reducing the chances that you transmit the virus to others. It’s protective for them.
  • Addendum: There’s strong new evidence which weakens the argument of the second point. The reason is that we’ve all become much better informed about how to properly wear face masks. It’s now pretty clear that many of us “untrained” folks are perfectly capable of properly wearing a mask. Alas, we can also all think of examples of people we see at the supermarket who haven’t read the memo.  

Ashley Lynne Ward (Registered Nurse,)

  • The Chinese were using military drones to scold people for not wearing face masks! I can’t believe that the U.S. citizens have been falsely lead to believe that masks don’t do anything. I’m a registered nurse who has worked for over 10 years with patients in isolation related to various communicable diseases. I am currently working in a COVID-19 afflicted hospital. We had our first COVID-19 death yesterday. Nobody is allowed to work in our emergency room without a face mask. If you have a face mask, please wear it for your own protection and out of consideration for others. Our president is not handling this health crisis properly! Any mask is better than no mask. I can’t begin to understand why we are applauding China for their ability to handle the COVID-19 crisis, but refusing to follow their example!,

Becca Errico (BS, MSN in Surgical Procedures and MedicineLos Angeles County – USC Medical)

  • No. Just because a mask filters particles in the air up to 95% or higher, it’s the size of the particle that is the problem. N95 masks, N100 masks, surgical masks, etc., do not filter particles and viruses less than 0.3 microns in diameter. This corona virus is very small at 0.125 microns in diameter.

    Healthcare people have been getting sick and are still getting sick…and they wear masks all the time at work. Masks are usually only worn to protect others from the contents of the wearer’s nose & mouth.

    Wearing a mask has become necessary since many essential businesses are requiring masks to be worn..but no one really knows how, why or when to wear a mask. The CDC did not change its guidelines regarding mask wearing, but has told the general public that wearing a mask may protect others if the mask wearer is sick or carrying the virus unknowingly. The CDC did not say wearing a mask will protect the wearer from becoming infected.

  • Wearing non medical face masks has been shown to lower the risk for people around the wearer catching the wearer’s respiratory microbes, thus useful. There is a report of a proven Covid-19 on a 15 hour long flight from Gungzhou, PRC, to Toronto, Canada, where all wore non medical masks, non of the 350 other passengers and crew, including those sitting around the patient, got infected. Non medical masks are a lot less effective compared to N95 face masks, no healthcare worker had been infected if they wore the right personal protection PPE equipment wearing a fresh N95 mask, googles, face shield for high risk procedures like intubation, cap, gown. People get infected when proper PPE is lacking. Surgical non N95 masks have also been proven to protect the wearer agains Covid-19, although less well than the N95 ones.
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