Do Cloth Masks Protect the Wearer from COVID-19?
by Katie Palmer 12/7/2020
New Cloth Mask COVID-19 Information from the CDC
COVID-19 is a new virus. New information is constantly being released on the topic. We’re here to help you keep up with and adapt to new knowledge about the virus.
In the beginning of the pandemic, experts believed that masks protect others, but not the wearer. Cloth masks were thought to provide no protection to the wearer.
However, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a scientific brief that states a cloth mask does protect against COVID-19. Here are some highlights from the brief:
How COVID-19 Spreads
- The virus is is transmitted by respiratory droplets generated when people cough, sneeze, sing, talk, or breathe.
- The CDC recommends community use of cloth masks to prevent COVID-19 transmission. Specifically, non-valved, multi-layer cloth masks.
Source Control and Protecting Others
- Asymptomatic or presymptomatic infections are people who feel well and may be unaware of their infectiousness to others. These infections are estimated to account for more than 50% of transmissions.
- Cloth masks block the release of exhaled respiratory particles into the environment. This protects the people around the wearer.
- 80% respiratory particle blockage has been achieved in experiments, with cloth masks performing similarly to surgical masks.
Cloth Masks and COVID-19 Protection
- Studies demonstrate that cloth mask materials can reduce the exposure to infectious droplets for the wearer. The masks reduce exposure through filtration. The exact amount of protection has varied, due to differences in experimental design and particle sizes.
- Multiple layers of cloth with higher thread counts have shown superiority over single layers of cloth with lower thread counts.
- The level of protection, and other mask benefits, depend on the type of fabric used for the mask.
The CDC’s Conclusion
- The prevention benefit of masking is a combination of source control (protecting others) and personal protection for the mask wearer.
- Further research is needed to improve cloth face masks, including their comfort and ease of wearing.
- Adopting universal masking policies can help avert future lockdowns, especially if combined with social distancing, hand hygiene, and proper ventilation.
Extra tips for Wearing Cloth Masks during COVID-19:
- Wash your hands with soap and water before putting on your mask, and after taking it off.
- Avoid touching your mask after wearing it. Touch only the straps.
- Wash your mask after wearing, or give it 3 days for the mask to disinfect.
- Masks are not a substitute for social distancing. Make sure you keep a distance of 6 feet between yourself and others.
- Put it over your nose and mouth and secure it under your chin.
Want to learn more about COVID-19?
Check out Smart Training’s free COVID-19 training module. It will teach you and your employees best practices to implement to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Stay safe, and keep wearing your masks. Especially now that you know it protects you too!