How effective are masks?


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The CDC recommends the use of masks as one of the precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, one thing we’ve all been told is to listen to the science. And Avera Health Dr. David Basel says the science behind masks is this.

“Generally of the numbers that most of the studies show is that there’s about 70% of effectiveness of source control, cutting down those going out from you and maybe about 50% on particles coming in,” Basel said.

And when both parties are wearing a mask, he says there is about a combined 90 percent protection.
He also says if you’ve tested positive for COVID-19 and are now recovered, wearing a mask is still a must.

“The next time you get exposed to the virus, you’re going to have to fight that virus off. And so the virus is still going to be reproducing and you still could be contagious there for a couple of days as you fight that off. Now you’re unlikely to get nearly as sick that second, probably not even get symptomatic necessarily, but you still could be contagious during that time period when your immune system is fighting subsequent exposure. And so you could still spread it,” Basel said.

While masks offer a great deal of protection, he says they, unfortunately, don’t stop the virus in its tracks.

This is why with the upcoming holidays approaching, he recommends making new virtual traditions and avoiding gatherings.

“Let’s face it. Thanksgiving is about group eating in many ways. And so, it’s really hard to successfully social distance at a Thanksgiving gathering,” Basel said.

He says there is no scientific evidence that masks cause any harm to people, and instead that the science behind masks is that they work.

“Every week to month, we’re getting more and more studies that are supporting the current mask mandates and that are showing, you know, how effective they actually are in shutting down the transmission. And so the science is definitely there and pretty clear,” Basel said.

To see the latest CDC recommendations regarding masks, click here.

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