Although the COVID-19 vaccine was just approved, it’s not immediately available for mass distribution and we don’t yet have a cure for the virus. But what if there were a simple yet powerful preventive step that could help protect us until then?
The good news is, there is one: wearing a mask, also known as a face covering. Along with social distancing and frequent hand washing, wearing a mask is one of the most powerful steps we can take to protect ourselves and loved ones from COVID-19. But in order for it to be successful, we all need to do our part.
Wearing a mask or face covering is more important now than ever, as we continue to set records nationwide for new COVID-19 cases, hospitalization and fatalities. In fact, according to the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Dr. Robert Redfield, if people don’t take these precautions to heart, our nation could see another 200,000 coronavirus deaths within the next three months. He added, “I actually believe they’re going to be the most difficult time in the public health history of this nation.”
Despite alarming statics on new cases of COVID-19 and death rates on the rise, mask-wearing myths continue to circulate. Here are four common—and worrisome—myths.
Mask Myth #1: There’s no scientific proof that wearing a mask is effective.
Dr. Redfield of the CDC doesn’t mince words. “The time for debating whether or not masks work or not is over. We clearly have scientific evidence.” As it happens, that evidence was borne close to home. He cited a Kansas CDC study that showed how COVID-19 cased declined in areas with mask mandates. Those areas without a mandate saw a 100 percent increase in COVID-19 cases. Wearing your mask correctly will also help ensure the efficacy of your mask.
Mask Myth #2: I’m healthy, so I don’t need to wear a mask.
Some people who contract COVID-19, such as those with health conditions like high blood pressure or heart disease, have been able to ride out the virus. Others who are young and healthy with no pre-existing conditions have ended up dying. Experts are still trying to figure out why some people are more susceptible to the virus than others. It is not worth taking the risk when there are still so many unknowns.
Mask Myth #3: I’m careful to stay away from anyone who is sick, so a mask isn’t necessary.
An estimated 50 percent of those infected with COVID-19 have no symptoms. All the while, they are infecting many with whom they come in contact with. Many of these newly infected people will feel fine, though spreading the infections to countless others. Some who become infected will be very sick. Others will die. No one wants to be burdened with the thought that they could have contributed to someone’s illness or demise.
Mask Myth #4: I don’t need to worry because the vaccination will be available to me soon.
It is true: one COVID-19 vaccine has been approved by the FDA, and more are being developed at an unprecedented rate. However, there are protocols in place that determine who gets vaccinations first. They include those on the front lines of care, such as doctors and hospital professionals, who are in contact with potential COVID-19 sufferers every day. Developing millions of doses of vaccines to protect us all will take time so while we patiently wait for the vaccine to roll out to the general public, wearing a mask will help reduce spread.
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