Wearing a face mask has recently become a norm for people across the country as the CDC has resolved that all Americans should wear a face covering when in public to slow the spread. The WHO recommends wearing a face mask if either you are caring for a person that is suspected of having COVID-19 or you yourself are sneezing, coughing, or sick. The WHO also stresses that face masks are only effective if you use them properly, and are not a replacement for frequent handwashing or hand sanitizing. The CDC advises wearing a face mask in a public setting where social distancing is impractical or in areas where transmission can easily happen. The CDC stresses that face masks do not replace other social distancing measures and should be made at home or made of cloth, rather than surgical masks or N95 masks.
Face masks are not the magical solution to stopping the spread of COVID-19 but are still an effective tool in lowering infection rates. In laboratory testing, wearing a face mask has been proven to block infectious particles from passing through, showing that a mask can defend others from an infected individual. According to one study, wearing a mask and frequently washing your hands can lead to a 50% drop-off in infection rates for the flu. With COVID-19 being projected at nearly 3 times as infectious as the flu, even a small reduction in infection can still make a large difference. Since COVID-19 is most commonly spread through asymptomatic carriers, this kind of protection may prove essential. In China, an estimated 86% of COVID-19 cases went undocumented and 79% of undocumented cases caused for over 75% of transmissions.