Cloth masks act as “source code control” to block virus particles exhaled by the wearer and provide “filtration for personal protection” by blocking incoming infectious droplets from others, according to the CDC in its new guidelines.
In several scenarios where officials told people to wear masks, infections and deaths fell significantly, the CDC said.
“Introducing universal masking guidelines can help prevent future bans, especially when combined with other non-pharmaceutical measures such as social distancing, hand hygiene, and adequate ventilation,” the CDC said.
The agency cited an economic analysis that found that increasing universal masking by 15% could prevent losses of up to $ 1 trillion.
“The relationship between source control and personal protection is likely to be complementary and potentially synergistic, so the greater the use of community masks, the greater the individual’s benefit,” said the CDC.
Some cloth masks are almost as good as surgical masks at blocking droplets, the CDC said. Polypropylene can create a static charge that traps particles, the CDC said, while silk repels wet droplets and might be more comfortable.
“Multiple layers of fabric with higher thread counts have shown superior performance compared to individual layers of fabric with lower thread counts. In some cases, nearly 50% of the fine particles less than 1 micron are filtered,” the CDC said.
“It’s a one-way street,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, on MSNBC Tuesday. “You protect others, their mask protects you and your mask protects you too.”