[guest post by Dana]
We’ve been discussing the viability of mask-wearing and whether wearing one can actually help limit the transmission of coronavirus. There is a report out today which confirms that surgical masks can significantly reduce the spread of infection:
Experiments by a team in Hong Kong found that the coronavirus’ transmission rate via respiratory droplets or airborne particles dropped by as much as 75% when surgical masks were used.
“The findings implied to the world and the public is that the effectiveness of mask-wearing against the coronavirus pandemic is huge,” Dr. Yuen Kwok-yung, a leading microbiologist from Hong Kong University who helped discover the SARS virus in 2003, said Sunday.
The study was released by the department of microbiology at The University of Hong Kong, and local media state it will be published in the Clinical Infectious Diseases medical journal, suggesting it is yet to be peer reviewed. The sample size was also reportedly in the double digits.
The team’s conclusion comes after months of conflicting information from world health bodies concerning masks. The World Health Organization has questioned their effectiveness outside of medical settings, while governments including those in the U.S. and U.K. initially urged citizens to leave them for health worker use, only to later make a U-turn and encourage widespread mask-wearing.
Dr. Yuen pointed out the reality of the moment: “Up to this stage, we do not have a safe and effective vaccine. What remains practical is still either social-distancing measures or wearing masks.”
With that, as we know, President Trump has refused to wear a mask when he is around others. According to reports last week, when the president toured Owens & Minor Inc. medical equipment distribution center in Pennsylvania, he did not wear a mask. And later, when he was in Phoenix, Arizona, touring a Honeywell International Inc. mask factory, he did not wear a mask (although he later claimed that the head of Honeywell said he did not need to). However, this week he is scheduled to tour Ford’s ventilator assembly plant in Ypsilanti, Michigan, and the automaker requires everyone to wear a mask:
“Our policy is that everyone wears PPE to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” Ford spokeswoman Rachel McCleery said. “We shared all of Ford’s safety protocols, including our manufacturing playbook, employee pamphlet and self-assessment survey with the White House ahead of time and in preparation for this trip.”
Will he or won’t he?