Should I still be wearing a mask when I am out of my home in the presence of other people?

Infection and Spread Masks Staying Safe

A: Yes! You should wear the mask.

A recent systematic review published in The Lancet examined the reduction in viral transmission with physical distancing and when wearing a mask. The rigorous study design summarizes existing evidence of 172 observational studies by grading the quality of each study and compiling the results. The findings of this systematic analysis support physical distance of at least 1 meter in reducing viral transmission. Current evidence also demonstrates a reduction in viral transmission with mask wearing. This review also highlights the benefit of eye protection in decreasing viral transmission.

This type of study is valuable because it systematically summarizes existing information. The calculations look at transmission rates in a population or group practicing a certain behavior, not on an individual level. Estimating the exact reduction in transmission attributable to wearing a mask in the setting of a new virus is incredibly challenging. What we know at this time is that masks and maintaining at least 1 meter of distance from other people not in your bubble decreases virus transmission. We recommend finding a well-fitting, tolerable mask that covers your nose and mouth and rocking it for the foreseeable future.

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