We Need Better Masks

We Need Better MasksWe Need Better Masks


We Need Better Masks

With 21 U.S. states experiencing a rise in Covid-19 cases just weeks after reopening, it’s clear that maintaining control of the pandemic without lockdowns is proving to be a challenge. To not only stay open but also really revive the economy — to get people back to work, traveling, attending sporting events, eating at restaurants, and so on — they will need to feel confident that they and their loved ones are at low risk of getting infected.To get more news about type IIR mask factory, you can visit tnkme.com official website.

Testing remains an order of magnitude short of what is needed, and a vaccine won’t be available until at least early next year. But we could potentially achieve control and confidence now if better masks were available for the general public that are more protective than the cloth ones worn now and closer in caliber to the N95 and high-filtration surgical masks used by health workers. In a previous article, we underscored the need for such masks in order to reopen safely. Now, as cases surge, we explain why better masks are as important as ever and outline the criteria for their effective design.
Scientists believe that Covid-19 is largely transmitted via virus-containing particles that people emit when they breathe, speak, cough, or sneeze. N95 masks, if worn correctly, can block nearly all of this spread. High-filtration surgical masks, which are a cut below N95s, can block much of this transmission but are not as effective against smaller particles, known as aerosols. There is debate about how much Covid-19 spreads through aerosols and whether the added protection N95s provide against them is necessary. While we need to better understand the level of protection required, what is clear is that if we had better masks than current cloth and homemade ones, transmission could be substantially and quickly curbed. The problem is N95s are uncomfortable to wear for long periods of time, and both surgical and N95 masks remain in short supply even for health workers, making neither an option for the general population.

Models suggest that the widespread use of even cloth masks, bandanas, or scarves could dramatically reduce transmission. But their effectiveness varies, and they primarily function as “source control”: They provide the person wearing it with some protection from particles coming in, but mainly reduce how much the wearer expels. That means that your personal safety from infection is not in your control and largely depends on how reliably those around you are wearing masks — a major problem given that only half of Americans wear masks consistently and some adamantly refuse to wear them as a political statement. All it takes is one “superspreader” not wearing a mask to infect numerous others who are.

Consequently, we need masks for the general population that block the virus from coming in and going out similar to what high-filtration surgical or N95 masks do for health workers. Masks like this would give people control over their own safety, a greater incentive to wear them, and the confidence to resume economically important activities.

If worn widely enough in crowded and indoor settings where most transmission seems to occur, these masks could potentially stop the epidemic altogether. They would also reduce flu transmission and the chance of a dreaded “double epidemic” in the fall. Better masks may be the most effective way to counter Covid-19 in low-income countries where testing is limited and the social and economic damage caused by lockdowns is more severe.