CDC updates guidance, says masks can also protect wearers from getting COVID-19

Posted at 6:48 AM, Nov 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-11 19:02:59-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updated its guidance on mask wearing, saying masks and facial coverings are doing much more to keep us safe than initially thought.

At the beginning of the pandemic, public health experts said that wearing a mask was more to protect others than yourself. However, the CDC is now saying that masks also can help protect you from getting the virus.

Dr. William Schaffner with Vanderbilt University Medical Center says the message of wearing a mask for the sake of others, wasn’t as effective as they hoped it would be.

He hopes this is the type of data that could help convince those more reluctant, to take masks more seriously.

“If you reinforce the notion that masks are also protecting the person who wears it, that I think can help convince people to start wearing the mask again,” Schaffner said.

Researchers have since learned a lot about masks and say they’re more capable than we give them credit for.

It’s no secret that surgical-grade masks are your best option, but researchers say cloth masks are not far off.

In fact, cloth masks in particular provide filtration by blocking droplets from others. New guidance from the CDC cited several examples of how wearing a mask reduced the likelihood of spreading or catching the virus by more than 70%.

But there's other benefits, as well. The agency also says, universal mask wearing can stop more lockdowns from happening and they also found up to a trillion dollar of losses can be stopped if there's even at least a 15% increase in universal masking.

In Davidson County, a mask mandate is still in place, as well as surrounding counties like Sumner, Wilson, Williamson and Rutherford.

Dr. Schaffner says while he’s optimistic that the CDC news will make a difference, he knows the road back to normal will take time.

“If you look at the very hard data and they are hard, in every state in this country the virus is going up,” Schaffner said.

We may be on our way to a vaccine by the end of the year, but Dr. Schaffner says we should not let our guards down this holiday season. He says the virus is spreading today because people are going to group events.

His advice this Thanksgiving is this, fewer people, for shorter periods of time, spread out, wearing masks.

”This is a long time deal. We’re all going to have to wear masks and do social distancing for a long time even after the vaccine starts to be used. No one intervention is a magic wand that is going to make this go away,” said Schaffner.