As the coronavirus vaccine from Pfizer continues to roll out across the U.S. and the U.K. and with the Moderna vaccine coming soon, experts still say people will have to continue wearing masks even after they’ve been inoculated.
Although the U.S. has now surpassed 3,000 coronavirus deaths per day, 13 states still don’t have a mask mandate (though Wyoming just implemented one for the first time in mid-December). And Dr. Anthony Fauci has said the pandemic could get even worse in the U.S. after the Christmas holiday than it was in the weeks following Thanksgiving. So, while there’s hope surrounding the new vaccine, it’ll still be quite a slog before life gets back to normal.
That’s why the continued wearing of masks in our everyday lives is imperative. More research continues to emerge about the masks and whether they should be worn to help stave off coronavirus transmissions, and the vast majority of it shows masks are vital to keep people safe from COVID-19. Recently, one of South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem’s advisers said, “I’m still waiting for someone to point me to where in the world mask mandates are working.”
Well, here’s a sampling of some of the newest studies to be published along with other research we continue to discover.
–The West Virginia University School of Public Health completed a mask-observation study in mid-December, and it concluded that 83.9% of people in the university’s community wore masks. Of those people, 86% wore them correctly.
During a seven-week period, observers watched a total of more than 3,100 people—2,637 wore masks (and 2,269 wore them as they were designed to be) and 507 didn’t. In mid-November, in the final week of the study, the number of people who donned the face coverings increased by 5% (with an increase of 4.3% of those who wore them correctly).
“We are very pleased with these results,” Keith Zullig, the chair of the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences and the study’s principal investigator, said, via the Dominion Post. “Preliminary analyses suggest the upward trend in mask-wearing we observed over the course of the study was statistically significant, which means these results are likely not caused by chance. I believe communicating the observation results back to our community each week helped tremendously.”
One of the students who also worked on the study said, “One surprise was how a few students would not wear a mask correctly until right before they entered a building or would immediately remove a mask after exiting, even though they are still on campus.”
–In a mid-November study released by Danish researchers, masks did not reduce the coronavirus infection rate by more than 50% among those who wore face coverings in a randomized control trial of almost 5,000 people. Some people apparently took that to mean that masks don’t make a difference. In the study, local officials did not recommend mask usage and “mask use was rare in community studies.” That means that most of the people encountered by those who wore masks for the study were maskless.
The BMJ, a peer-reviewed medical journal, responded to that study by writing a post titled “The curious case of the Danish mask study” and blamed social media for misinformation about the idea of masks not working.
Wrote Kamran Abbasi, the executive editor of The BMJ: “Except that if you read the published paper you find almost the exact opposite. The trial is inconclusive rather than negative, and it points to a likely benefit of mask-wearing to the wearer—it did not examine the wider potential benefit of reduced spread of infection to others—and this even in a population where mask-wearing isn’t mandatory and prevalence of infection is low.”
As we wrote in November after the study emerged, “The authors said the study should not be used to say that a recommendation to wear masks wouldn’t work to control COVID-19 transmissions. It’s just that there were other factors being studied in this particular case.”
In case you missed last week’s blog post, the spotlighted research included a study on 32 different materials that could be used in cloth masks and tested them for filtration efficiency, differential pressure, quality factor, and construction parameters.