June 30, 2020
As businesses try to remain open and employees are back at work, masks can play a pivotal role in helping block the spread of the virus. The more people that are wearing a mask in any given space, the greater the expected benefit. Sheldon Chaffer, MD, Coryell Health Nephrologist, Vice Chief of Staff and Dialysis Center Medical Director, confirms that a simple mask, including home-made cotton mask, likely results in some decrease in the wearer’s risk of being infected by the virus that causes COVID-19. But, he also states that the greatest benefit seems to be in reducing the mask wearer’s ability to infect other people. Patients without any symptoms can be infected and spread the virus without knowing they are infected. “We are seeing evidence that the least symptomatic individuals may be the greatest spreader of the virus. Some patients who have tested positive have gone 7-14 days without any symptoms. During that time, Dr. Chaffer explains, “They expose everyone they come in contact with. To limit the risk of transmission, we all need to wear a mask in public spaces, practice physical distancing, frequently sanitize hard surfaces, and wash our hands regularly.”
Wearing a mask is just one of the tools we have to fight the spread of the virus. As Dr. Chaffer notes, “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says masks potentially help prevent transmission when used as a complement to physical distancing.” Masks, he says, should be used in conjunction with physical distancing, hand washing, and regular testing, not as a replacement of that practice.
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