We are truly at war with this virus… But we have a secret weapon – the American spirit in each and every one of you. So please – be a Patriot. Limit interactions outside your household and wear a mask.”
U.S. Surgeon General Jerome M. Adams, MD, MPH, as the COVID-19 pandemic surges at unprecedented numbers.
As of Wednesday, more than 250,000 people in the United States have died from COVID-19. More than 11 million have tested positive for the new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, that causes the disease.
Over the past week, we’ve averaged more than 150,000 new cases per day.
In addition, a new projection from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington predicts the COVID-19 death toll could surpass 438,000 by March 1 if current trends continue.
The IHME scientists note, however, that this death toll isn’t inevitable.
They say we could save nearly 130,000 livesTrusted Source if 95 percent of the U.S. population wore a mask.
Even if only 85 percent wore a mask, nearly 96,000 deaths could be prevented.
More reasons to wear a mask
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now says wearing a mask also protects you, not just the people around you.
In an updated scientific briefTrusted Source released last week, the CDC says it has confirmed seven studies that show wearing a mask also protects the person wearing it.
And the report says by wearing a mask, you can help protect the economy, too.
The CDC says data analysis shows that just a 15 percent increase in mask wearing could prevent the need for lockdowns and help reduce economic losses up to €0.84 trillion.
A new study published in the journal Aerosol Science and Technology suggests that a simple cloth mask can be quite effective.
UCLA researchers reported that a cough could send particles more than 6 feet away without any face covering. But a two-layer cloth mask reduced cough particles by 77 percent.
“That’s actually more than I expected before I started the experiment, that’s good news,” said Yifang Zhu, Ph.D., a professor of environmental health sciences at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health.
She said surgical masks you can purchase at a pharmacy worked even better.
“The disposable masks we tested are actually quite effective. They can offer somewhere around 90 percent reduction of particles,” Zhu told Healthline.
But she said face shields offered little protection.
“Aerosol droplets just come around the gaps and are transported away very easily,” Zhu said.