Wearing a mask not only protects others from the spread of COVID-19, but it protects the wearer as well, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday in its strongest messaging yet on face coverings.
The CDC also said that "adopting universal masking policies can help avert future lockdowns," particularly when combined with a doubling down of mitigation strategies available to virtually every American: physical distancing, hand washing and ventilation, NBC News reports.
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SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, spreads mainly through respiratory droplets, especially when people are coughing, sneezing, singing, talking or even breathing. Infectious disease experts have long said that when one person covers his or her mouth and nose, it protects those who are nearby. The CDC report estimated that more than 50 percent of transmissions originate from asymptomatic people, or those who have been infected but have not yet developed symptoms.
When the CDC first urged Americans to wear face coverings in public in spring, the guidance was that it protected others. But there is growing evidence that a mask can also give protection to the person wearing it.