The dreaded coronavirus in China has many reaching for face masks across the globe.
While mandatory in Wuhan, China, where the virus originated, a face mask is of little use, practically speaking, some experts say.
But, The White House is expected to announce a new policy, based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that would urge Americans to also wear cloth masks in an effort to prevent coronavirus spread, according to a federal official familiar with the policy.
In a draft document released to the media, the CDC recommended that the public use homemade face coverings when in public, reserving higher-grade protective equipment like N95 masks for hospitals and health care workers, who have faced severe shortages in personal protective equipment as the coronavirus pandemic has accelerated through the United States.
Such face coverings, according to the draft guidance, would not be intended to protect the wearer, but rather prevent the wearer from unknowingly spreading the disease when in public. Individuals should wear face coverings in public settings like grocery stores, the guidance said. Children under the age of 2 and people experiencing trouble breathing would be excluded from the mask guidelines.
“A surgical mask might provide some protection, but it’s going to be very modest,” said Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of preventive medicine a
No definitive studies exist that prove masks prevent infections. Also, masks are designed for different purposes and only some guard against infectious diseases.
Picking the right type of mask may be key, said one researcher.
“Several studies, including research from my group, show that if worn properly, masks can protect people in the