Center for Infectious Disease Research & Policy (CIDRAP), U. Minnesota:
“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.”
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.
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.
Surgical masks likely have some utility as source control (meaning the wearer limits virus dispersal to another person) from a symptomatic patient in a healthcare setting to stop the spread of large cough particles and limit the lateral dispersion of cough particles. They may also have very limited utility as source control or PPE in households.
Now will somebody PLEASE send the imbecilic Public Health Directors around the country the memo?