The effectiveness of masks in combating COVID-19
Bottom Line: It’s been a month since I last specifically covered this topic. A lot’s happened. A month ago,we were averaging 1,200 new COVID-19 cases per day in Florida. Now 9,200 per day. A month ago,we averaged 34 COVID deaths a day. Now 54. A month ago, the positive test rate in Florida was 4.3%. Today it’s 19.3%.I could continue but there is but one immovable fact. The spread of the virus, and the risk of being exposed to it, are significantly higher today. Why? There are multiple contributing reasons but one that stands above the rest. People not wearing masks in public places around others. How can I definitively make that statement? Because scientific study after scientific study has demonstrated as much. Masks are the single most effective way to reduce the spread of the virus. Yet every day, despite our current reality, I hear from numerous listeners who want to argue about it. And what’s most frustrating to me is that unlike some issues in which the only person you harm if you act against your own interest is yourself, this is very much the contrary. Less of South Florida’s economy is open today than a month ago because of the spread. Fewer South Floridians are working today than a month ago because of the spread. Tens of thousands of South Floridians are sick today who weren’t then because of the spread. Thousands of South Floridians are now dead because of the spread. So,when people are careless and ignore public health advisories like wearing masks, this is what happens. Rather than reinventing the wheel on this topic – these are the exact words which I shared with you a month ago.
And then there were three. As in three scientific studies conducted on the effectiveness of the use of masks. And all three say the same thing. Masks are highly effective in stopping the spread of COVID-19. There’s an inconvenient truth happening right now. We’re seeing a spike in new cases as reopening and mass protests are happening. In other words, for as much poo as we were shoveled at the onset of this pandemic, which turned out not to be true – like masks not really being that effective...most experts have been right about the reopening and protest concerns. It’s not just going away because it’s almost summer and we want it to. In fact, in Florida, the spread of virus is currently the worst it’s been since the pandemic began and naturally South Florida is the epicenter of activity. So simply saying screw it, I’m pretending this isn’t a problem isn’t the best idea anyone has had, and it certainly isn’t the healthiest. For that reason, paying attention to what’s most effective to stop the spread is smart and being stubborn isn’t.
Look around you when you’re out and about. How many people are social distancing? How many are wearing masks when in closed public spaces? That’s why we’re having these spikes. That’s why this problem is getting worse. And more than a month after the first scientific study revealed masks reduce the spread by greater than 66% and a second confirmed those findings, we have a third. And this one goes deeper than the others. The published in the medical Journal the Lancet, found the following:
- The use of masks reduces the spread of COVID-19 by an average of 85%
- Social distancing by as little as three feet reduces spread by 77%
- The use of masks in public are equally effective as compared to medical staff at hospitals
- N95 masks are 96% effective & basic masks are 77% effective
The top takeaway from the scientists. Universal use of masks in public. In fact, when wearing a mask and social distancing by just three feet your odds of catching COVID-19 from someone who has it just three feet from you drops to only 3%. This really isn’t complicated, but the question is will we listen. I’d much rather completely reopen the economy, stay healthy and get used to masks than any of the alternatives. Hopefully you feel the same way. It’s in all our best interests.
The only thing that’s changed since then? Two additional studies further proving the effectiveness of masks and the proliferation of the virus in Florida I shared at the onset of this story. And for any additional cynics who still want to hold out... Why, for at least 140 years, have medical service providers worn masks? Please be smart and be safe. If not for you, than for all of the rest of us who want to stay healthy and to fully reopen out economy. I don’t agree with lockdowns either but rest assured reopening's won’t happen throughout South Florida until we begin to meaningfully turn the corner on the virus.