“Consistent and correct use of face masks is a public health strategy that is critical to reducing the spread of SARS-CoV-2 in the airway, especially based on an estimate that about half of new infections are transmitted by asymptomatic individuals,” the CDC summary provides guidance.
The CDC has gradually strengthened its recommendations on the use of masks. “Convincing evidence now supports the benefits of cloth masks both in controlling the source (to protect others) and, to a lesser extent, in protecting the wearer,” wrote CDC Margaret Honein, Dr. Henry Walke et al.
The masks work so well that some communities should consider releasing them, the CDC team said.
“A community-level plan needs to be developed to distribute face masks to specific populations, such as those who may be blocking access,” the CDC team wrote in the agency’s weekly report.
“As the highest risk of infection has been documented in the household relationships of Covid-19 patients, maintaining household safety requires physical distance, using the other public health strategies summarized here, and in particular the consistent and correct use of face masks (outside the household and in some cases in the household). to prevent the introduction and transmission of SARS-CoV-2, “they added.
“To preserve the supply of N95 respirators, the CDC recommends non-valve, multi-layered cloth masks or non-medical disposable masks for community use for healthcare workers and other first aiders,” the team added.
“A household face mask should be used if a member of the household is infected or has recently been potentially exposed to Covid-19.”
Physical distance is also important.
“Although the effects of physical distance are difficult to separate from other interventions, one study found that physical distance reduced the average number of daily connections by as much as 74% per day,” they added. Consistent physical distance can stop the spread, the CDC said.
Restaurants and crowded events are particularly risky, the CDC team noted.
“Exposure to non-essential indoor and crowded outdoor settings poses a preventable risk to all participants,” they wrote.
“Indoor locations where distance is not maintained and consistent use of face masks is not possible (e.g., restaurant meals) have been identified as a particularly high-risk scenario. Crowded events in outdoor environments have also been linked to the spread of SARS-CoV. -2 , although it may be difficult to separate the effects of crowded outdoor events from the associated indoor social interactions. “
Since at least 40% of people with coronavirus infections have no symptoms, screening for symptoms – like temperature control – doesn’t do much good, the team noted.
Plus, testing isn’t always foolproof because of the possibility of false negatives. So people have to do everything: they have to wear a mask, stay away, ventilate as much as possible indoors, and wash their hands often.
However, testing is important. This is especially true for people who communicate a lot with others and are at higher risk, the CDC team said. Also included are people who work densely or are college students.
For example, nursing home staff often need to be tested for their own benefit and thus do not spread viruses to others.
And people need to get the results back quickly so that they can isolate themselves if they get infected – and be warned about their connections so they don’t spread the virus without them knowing.
“These actions represent a bridge to a future with widespread availability of effective vaccines and a high level of community coverage, when it will be possible to return safely to day-to-day activities in a variety of circumstances,” the CDC team wrote.