Why Scientists Say That Wearing a Mask Is Absolutely Mandatory
By: Evan Mei
“Should I put on a mask, or should I not?” Unfortunately for health experts, many people are still debating this very question when it has been answered time and time again.
The CDC has recommended that everyone wear a mask to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. However, now that most lockdowns have been lifted and restrictions are being eased across the country, many people have foregone wearing masks altogether. Many governors are going so far as to ban counties and cities from requiring people to wear face masks.
Additionally, some people are protesting against mandatory masks, as they believe it infringes upon their personal freedoms and they feel offended when people tell them to wear a mask.
When the outbreak first began, it was strongly believed amongst the scientific community that the virus came from touching contaminated surfaces. With this reasoning in mind, the CDC and WHO recommended frequent handwashing and not touching the face, and both organizations also said that healthy people were not required to wear masks.
However, it is now clear that the virus has a much higher probability of being contracted via airborne inhalation than from simply touching a contaminated surface.
This is why the CDC has recommended wearing masks, even healthy people, because the covering of the mouth and nose reduces the risk of inhaling the virus. Usually people initially have no clue they have contracted the virus because they are asymptomatic, so if everyone wears a mask, it helps prevent transmission.
Surgical and N95 masks have proved to be very effective in terms of limiting the spread of the virus. There has been much less research on the effectiveness of cloth masks, but tests by Matthew Staymates, who is a mechanical engineer and fluid dynamicist at the US National Institute of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg, MD, have shown that air has been effectively stopped when wearing masks that fit the nose, cheeks, and chin well.