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Why You Should Wear a Mask

Why You Should Wear a Mask

As the highly contagious Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus sweeps across South Georgia, many experts say it’s time to get back to the basics and reduce the spread of the virus.

And that means wearing a mask again, even if you’re vaccinated.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports an estimated 50% of virus transmissions have been linked to asymptomatic or presymptomatic cases where people were likely unaware of their contagious state. And though the COVID-19 vaccines perform well when it comes to preventing serious illness and death, it’s possible that vaccinated people may be carriers of the virus, too. This is why the CDC recently announced revised masking recommendations that encourage masking indoors for all individuals (even fully vaccinated individuals) in communities deemed substantial or high-risk transmission areas.

“With the contagious Delta variant rampant in our community right now, we all need to do our part to reduce the spread of this dangerous virus. And yes, that means wearing a mask again, even if you are fully vaccinated,” said Archbold pulmonologist Johnny Belenchia, MD.

How COVID-19 is transmitted

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) is transmitted predominately by inhaling respiratory droplets that are generated when people cough, sneeze, sing, talk, or breathe.

Studies show cloth masks prevent the spread of COVID-19

“Cloth masks are intended to reduce the emission of virus-laden droplets. Masks help reduce inhalation of droplets by the wearer, and studies show they work as an effective barrier to help prevent the spread of the virus,” said Dr. Belenchia.

Several recent studies from the CDC show mask-wearing is beneficial in reducing the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

  • According to the CDC, multi-layer cloth masks can block up to 50-70% of fine droplets and particles, while also limiting the forward spread of those that are not captured.
  • The CDC also reports that cloth masks perform on par with surgical masks as barriers for source control with upwards of 80% blockage achieved in human experiments that measured blocking of all respiratory droplets with cloth masks.
  • Another study from the CDC showed that, within 20 days of the implementation of mask mandates, there were significant declines in COVID-19 case counts and deaths in the communities that made the ruling.

If not for yourself, mask up for others

The reality is, multi-layered cloth masks aren’t intended to protect the wearer from the virus. You would need a properly fitting, medical-grade respirator for that.

Cloth masks should actually be worn to prevent the transmission of the virus to others. And according to Dr. Belenchia, by wearing a mask, your impact can be significant.

“If you’re questioning whether or not to wear a mask, I encourage you to think about the elderly or immunocompromised individuals that may not be able to survive COVID-19. Consider the children under the age of 12 who don’t have access to the vaccine quite yet,” said Dr. Belenchia. “If you could do one thing to prevent these people from a serious illness or from death, why wouldn’t you? It’s more than just wearing a mask. It’s about doing your part to protect others.”