Here’s who should wear face masks at home, according to experts

We hear you that face masks are a downright pain, particularly if they don’t fit properly. At the same time, masks, social distancing, and hand washing are the only known deterrents against the pandemic. And the facts are scary: Johns Hopkins University says that the U.S., with less than 5 percent of the world’s population, also has more than 22 percent of global coronavirus deaths, and over 25 percent of global infections (via CNBC). 

Coronavirus expert Dr. Anthony Fauci tells CNN that this was partly caused by a difference in how cities and states responded to the pandemic. “Some [states] went up and some went down, way down, and there were parts of the country you could look at that did very well. But totally, as a nation, we are in that situation where we’ve got to get that control way down to a low baseline.”

One of the ways we can achieve this is by wearing masks in public, and even at home in some cases, particularly if we are living with a high risk individual. 

Why this wave of the virus is different

“To everybody who lives in a rural area, you are not immune or protected from this virus. If you’re in multi-generational households, and there’s an outbreak in your rural area or in your city, you need to really consider wearing a mask at home. This epidemic right now is different and it’s more widespread and it’s both rural and urban,” White House coronavirus task force coordinator Deborah Birx said on CNN.

Birx’s call to wear masks at home is supported by a small study which was published in BMJ Global Health back in May, and pointed out that wearing face masks at home could be 79 percent effective in cutting the chance of transmission — particularly if masks are worn before symptoms start to emerge. Researchers have said that their advice is especially relevant for those who are living with someone in quarantine due to infection. It is also important for families of healthcare providers who may face the risk of infection (via Forbes). 

Meanwhile, Birx warns Americans about the virus: “We are in a new phase. What we are seeing today is different from March and April. It is extraordinarily widespread” (via People).

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