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Opinions/Editorials
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Title: Masks-for-all for COVID-19 not based on sound data
Source: Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP)
URL Source: https://www.cidrap.umn.edu/news-per ... -covid-19-not-based-sound-data
Published: Apr 27, 2020
Author: CIDRAP
Post Date: 2020-06-27 19:33:21 by Deckard
Keywords: None
Views: 43

Dr. Brosseau is a national expert on respiratory protection and infectious diseases and professor (retired), University of Illinois at Chicago.
Dr. Sietsema is also an expert on respiratory protection and an assistant professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago.


In response to the stream of misinformation and misunderstanding about the nature and role of masks and respirators as source control or personal protective equipment (PPE), we critically review the topic to inform ongoing COVID-19 decision-making that relies on science-based data and professional expertise.

As noted in a previous commentary, the limited data we have for COVID-19 strongly support the possibility that SARS-CoV-2—the virus that causes COVID-19—is transmitted by inhalation of both droplets and aerosols near the source. It is also likely that people who are pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic throughout the duration of their infection are spreading the disease in this way.

Data lacking to recommend broad mask use

We do not recommend requiring the general public who do not have symptoms of COVID-19-like illness to routinely wear cloth or surgical masks because:

  • There is no scientific evidence they are effective in reducing the risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission
  • Their use may result in those wearing the masks to relax other distancing efforts because they have a sense of protection
  • We need to preserve the supply of surgical masks for at-risk healthcare workers.

Sweeping mask recommendations—as many have proposed—will not reduce SARS-CoV-2 transmission, as evidenced by the widespread practice of wearing such masks in Hubei province, China, before and during its mass COVID-19 transmission experience earlier this year. Our review of relevant studies indicates that cloth masks will be ineffective at preventing SARS-CoV-2 transmission, whether worn as source control or as PPE. 

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