The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is adjusting its guidance on masking up again—as COVID-19 cases continue to break records.
The CDC now says wearing a mask protects you from coronavirus too, not just the people around you.
Health officials in Washington have been saying this for a long time, but now that the CDC is making it official, doctors hope that will convince people who still have doubts that masks save lives.
At first the CDC said the main benefit of wearing masks was to prevent infected people from spreading the virus.
Now said the CDC says wearing one protects you from coronavirus too because masks provide “filtration for personal protection” by blocking incoming virus droplets.
The CDC cited studies showing masks reduce the risk of transmitting or catching the virus by more than 70%.
Infectious diseases doctors in Washington have been saying this for months.
“At this point: it’s not conjecture. It’s not a hunch,” said UW Medicine Infectious Diseases Dr. Paul Pottinger. “As they laid out in their guidance our officers at CDC are very clear: and the scientific question has been answered, ‘masks saves lives’. Both to protect others from us and to protect us from others.”
Dr. Pottinger believes the official word from the CDC is significant to convince those who might still be in doubt about masks, and it opens the door for policy to follow.
“If our governmental leaders decide that they want to come out with some kind of policy—not just recommendations but policy, they can now turn to CDC and say, ‘ here is the highest public office in the land that says this will save lives.’”
The mask update comes as retail giant Costco is implementing a stricter mask policy, requiring all of its customers to wear a mask or face shield inside its stores. Even those who were exempted with a medical condition, now have to wear a face shield.
“This updated policy may seem inconvenient to some, however we believe the added safety is worth any inconvenience. Our goal is to continue to provide a safe shopping environment for our members and guests, and to provide a safe work environment for our employees,” said Costco President and CEO Craig Jelinek in a press release.
Some Costco shoppers said they would rather shop somewhere where they feel safe.
“When I hear the numbers going up, I just feel like you know people need to do something,” said shopper Tien Cheung.
“It’s pretty straightforward wear the mask and help people or don’t wear a mask and be part of the problem,” said Seattle Resident Ryan Witty. “I think Costco is on the right path to put their foot down and where they stand on the mask.”
Experts say, yes masks are a great tool, but we also have to keep up with social distancing and avoiding those gatherings, especially for the holidays.