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At this point, though, Malley doubts most people would even be willing to wear masks frequently without the immediate threat of a pandemic and the mask mandates that came with it. “We can’t even get [some] people to do it in the midst of the pandemic,” Malley notes. “They’ve been lifesaving, but they do symbolize, to some extent, the restrictions that have been placed on all of us.”
Experts weigh in on where, and when, you can safely take one off.
A ragtag coalition of public-health activists believe that America’s pandemic restrictions are too lax—and they say they have the science to prove it.
The CDC recommends wearing homemade face masks and face coverings in public, from hand-sewn cloth to bandanas and rubber bands. Here's how they can and can't help you at preventing coronavirus, and how they're different from N95 masks.
No, a regular surgical mask will not help you steer clear of the virus.
There's a lot of information out there. Here's how to find the right face covering for you.
This comic is based on reporting by Maria Godoy of NPR.
Decades-old data is being used to describe the propagation of tiny droplets. Now a fluid dynamics team has developed new models: Masks and distancing are good, but not enough. Even with a mask, infectious droplets can be transmitted over several meters and remain in the air longer than previously thought.
Is T-shirt fabric the best material for fashioning a mask…or the worst? Is thick cloth more impervious to airborne viruses…or is a tightly woven sheet? Are vacuum bags essential…or will a simple bandanna do?
Anything is better than nothing, according to filtration experts, but there are differences in the intended function and level of protection offered by the coverings.
Surprisingly, a fleece neck gaiter actually increased the number of droplets expelled. 'The notion that "anything is better than nothing" didn’t hold true'.
Wearing a face mask takes some getting used to. To get the most benefit, you need to avoid these common mistakes.
The researchers calculated that the resulting pressure from medical masks can be greater than an equivalent of 3 pounds per square inch on the face’s soft tissue. When a medical worker wears a mask for hours on end everyday, that number begins to feel significant.
Ultimately, one of the goals is to counter a lot of myths that have circulating about masks. Here are 10 common ones...
So, you’ve bought yourself a box of N95 masks and you think you’re good for #COVID19. Let me tell you what my hospital makes me do EVERY YEAR to make sure my N95 mask fits (yes, they come in sizes). Watch out: long thread ahead!
As many exercisers experiment with different types of masks and fabrics to protect themselves and others, we asked the experts to weigh in
Hopefully one day, getting vaccinated will mean you no longer need a mask. But not yet.
So wear them if you want to or have to, but don’t for one second think they are offering you or others any significant degree of protection. And that is my concern about the mask mandate fetish, not only are people being lied to about the science, but they are being misled into thinking they will have a level of protection they won’t.
If there is a symbol of the current confusion and fear, the misinformation and anxiety, generated by the spread of the new coronavirus, it is the surgical face mask.
As the influenza pandemic swept across the United States in 1918 and 1919, masks took a role in political and cultural wars.
Cloth masks are better than nothing, but they were supposed to be a stopgap measure.
Short of a total lockdown, universal mask-wearing is the most effective way to slow the relentless rise in hospitalizations and deaths from Covid-19.
So which respirator is right for you? And where can you buy a legitimate one? And do they have to be uncomfortable?
Los Angeles has essentially been under a mask mandate since April of 2020 and has some of the highest covid case rates in the world, death rates in the world as well.
From social media to street art, masks are cropping up everywhere. Deborah Nicholls-Lee finds images around the world reflecting what’s going on now.
Knowing which mask to pick and making sure it’s not a fake requires the sleuthing skills of a forensic investigator. Our guide can help.
When to wear them, when not to wear them, that is the question.
But what exactly are N95 and KN95 masks, what are the differences between them, and which mask should you ultimately purchase? Here are the facts.
Upgrade your mask to one of these picks to protect yourself against the omicron and delta variants of COVID-19.
Throughout the pandemic, wearing a face mask has been one of the best ways that anyone can easily reduce their risk of catching or spreading COVID-19. Putting aside the often contentious debate over mask mandates, face masks remain a crucial and effective individual tool, which is why it continues to be frustrating that most people, two years in, are not wearing better masks.
We might have once hoped that vaccines would entirely obviate masking, but unfortunately, masks seem poised to stick around for quite some time. And yet, even as much of our approach to the pandemic has changed in the past 18 months, our approach to masking largely has not. So why are we still strapping pieces of fabric to our face? Cloth masks are less protective than surgical masks, but exactly how much less remains uncertain.
The C.D.C.’s new masking advice was based in part on data showing that the virus can thrive in the airways of vaccinated people.
The evidence on lockdowns may be dicey, but the science on masks is clear: They work. Even experts I spoke with who think harsh lockdowns may have been counterproductive say indoor mask mandates were clearly effective.
There's a lot of information out there. Here's how to find the right face covering for you.
All together, these data suggest masks are working — and working well. "There's encouraging evidence from a number of flights that masking does help greatly, but it would be nice to study it better," he says. "The circumstantial evidence is, your risk is low on a plane, if there is rigid masking."
And that last part is key. To keep the risk low on planes, everyone needs to keep their mask on while riding the plane.
The value of masks is falling. But it may rise again.
Wu recommends wearing masks made out of natural fibers, such as cotton, bamboo, or natural silk to reduce the likelihood of irritation. Face coverings properly fashioned out of these materials might be an effective barrier to aerosol particles,
Briefly passing someone on the sidewalk just isn’t risky.
With daily reports of breakthrough infections and the rise of the Delta variant, vaccinated people may need to take a few more precautions. Here’s what you need to know.
Yesterday, the CDC released more relaxed mask guidelines for outdoor activities, as well as new charts for indoor and outdoor recommendations. The new guidelines are rigid and binary, and aren’t accompanied by explanations or a link to an accessible version of the underlying science, which would empower people to both understand them better and figure things out for themselves.
Why the CDC is so confident that (most) fully vaccinated people can go maskless.
Once they are fully vaccinated, the CDC says it's safe for them to remove their masks in most settings, just like fully vaccinated adults. But state and local laws apply, as do school and business policies. And masks will still be required for all on buses, trains and planes, and at stations and airports.
High-quality respirators such as N95s and KN95s are now widely available and provide the best protection against COVID, according to experts. Why aren’t more people wearing them?
Doctors have noticed increased cases of face rashes and irritation caused by facial protective coverings. Here’s why and what you can do if you're experiencing the skin condition.
For more than a year now, we’ve had masks on our faces — or at the ready on our front-hall tables, in our glove compartments, or buttoned to our shirtfronts. I’ve grown as attached to mine as Linus van Pelt was to his blanket, and the thought of abandoning it is liberating but also unsettling. After all, that modest membrane might just have saved my life.
Think before you panic-buy.
Keeping up mask-wearing or implementing a mask policy at any time can be helpful. But its impact is highest when you do it early.
Masks prevent people from transmitting the coronavirus to others, scientists now agree. But a new trial failed to document protection from the virus among the wearers.
For the rest of us, cloth masks made from t-shirts, bandanas, bras, or jeans are sufficient, and mandatory in some states, not for the sake of the people wearing them, but everyone else. Cloth masks reduce the likelihood that an asymptomatic person who has Covid-19 unwittingly infects others.
But a new study suggests adding a layer of nylon stocking could make even DIY masks far more useful as defensive barriers, too.
“It’s a violation of my freedom, I think, and then also I just don’t think they work,” Amy said. “A lot of stuff says it does, but then some doesn’t.”
Governments need to give Americans an off-ramp to the post-pandemic world. Ending outdoor mask requirements would be a good place to start.
Infectious disease researchers worry about their ability to continue working as supplies of N95 respirators dwindle.
But there’s possibly potentially perhaps something else. Gandhi and Rutherford postulate that an ordinary face mask could actually work a bit like a vaccine and give you immunity against the Covid-19 coronavirus. A vaccine? How? Are you supposed to inject the mask into your arm? No, and please don’t do that. The thought is that a mask could help you gain immunity through “variolation.”
Some countries are changing their mask requirements with an eye on combating the new COVID-19 variants — though they're not explicitly recommending double-masking. Germany is now requiring that people wear medical-grade face masks (like N95s or surgical masks) on public transit or to grocery stores...
How the coronavirus travels through the air has become one of the most divisive debates in this pandemic.
The science supports that face coverings are saving lives during the coronavirus pandemic, and yet the debate trundles on. How much evidence is enough?
A new generation of coverings could last longer, diagnose Covid and actually kill viruses.
For something that’s supposed to cover our mouths it speaks volumes about how crazy some have gotten. Specifically, that face mask tells how the world’s richest and most scientifically advanced country generated a cadre of leaders and citizens who made wearing a covering over their nose and mouth to prevent the spread of a contagion into a freedom-of-speech issue and cultural marker — something no other country in the world did.
There is nothing more demoralizing than this, nothing that set us back in the fight against Covid-19 further and faster.
The CDC’s updated guidance advises vaccinated people that they can drop the masks in all outdoor and indoor settings, with the exception of hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, homeless shelters, prisons and jails, and planes, trains, and any other form of public transportation. But citizens are still subject to local masking requirements.
Researchers analyzed coronavirus infection rates in Kansas following a statewide mask mandate. They found that counties that chose to enforce the mandate saw their cases decrease. Counties that chose to opt out saw their cases continue to rise.
"This adds to the growing body of evidence that says large, widespread masking helps to slow the spread of COVID," says Dr. Aaron Carroll, a professor at Indiana University School of Medicine.
With coronavirus cases still rising, wearing a mask is more important than ever. In this animation, you will see just how effective a swath of fabric can be at fighting the pandemic.
Health officials and experts are increasingly saying it’s time to upgrade your face masks, especially in light of the omicron surge.
A small study prompted fears that neck gaiters could spread more virus droplets than they stop. But new research shows that those face coverings can protect just as well as other cloth masks.
Cloth masks are fine for many people — as long as they cover your nose and mouth.
Some fabric face coverings on sale in supermarkets and high-street pharmacies could be giving people a false sense of security by letting the vast majority of large particles pass through them, an investigation by the consumer magazine Which? has revealed.
Much of the confusion around masks stems from the conflation of two very different uses.
Motorized air purifiers and heated sanitizers. Breathable fabrics and chic prints. With face coverings here to stay, consumers are starting to demand more than cheap throwaways.
The United States’ secretive medical stockpile was prepped for a bombing, not a pandemic
Of course, decisions about masking are personal. They will differ for certain groups, including those at high risk of severe COVID-19, unable to be vaccinated or living with someone who falls into either of those two previous categories.
It is important to recognize that the optimal way to prevent airborne transmission is to use a combination of interventions from across the hierarchy of controls, not just PPE alone.
How does one find the best reusable, unisex, cloth face covering? Our panel of five editor-testers rated and ranked a huge variety of masks on style, breathability, fit and material.
Here are the WIRED staff’s favorite face coverings for running, walking the dog, going to work, or looking stylish. Updated December 2020: We removed and demoted older picks and added a few more masks we like. We also included more information on mask accessories.
The best hope for ending the pandemic isn’t to choose between masks, physical distancing and vaccines, Offit said, but to combine them. “The three approaches work best as a team,” he said.
"A cloth mask might be 50% effective at blocking viruses and aerosols," says Linsey Marr, a researcher at Virginia Tech who studies airborne virus transmission. "We're at the point now ... that we need better than 50%."
Face coverings are back. Read our updated tips on how to pick an effective mask—whether you’re heading back to the office or just want to stay safe and stylish.
They may look similar, but they serve different purposes.
The scientific evidence and global consensus is clear: homemade masks can slow the spread of COVID-19 because "my mask protects you and your mask protects me." Take action now to save lives and restore the global economy!
When and how to use masks.