As COVID-19 cases in New York City continue to decrease, many states across the United States have reopened or are working towards reopening. However, six states are recording the highest number of infections; Florida, Arizona, Texas, Oklahoma, and Oregon are all witnessing a severe rise in conformed COVID-19 cases. Many believe this is a result of hastily reopening attempts, as well as the Memorial Day weekend gatherings and events. In total, as compared to the previous week, 33 states and territories have a surge of COVID-19 cases in the US.
The total figure of Americans who have caught the COVID-19 infection is believed to be ten times more than the reported cases, as per the CDC. While talking to the journalists, Robert Redfield, Director of the CDC, said, “Our best estimate right now is that for every case that’s reported, there are actually ten other infections.” He added that 90 to 95 % of the population in the U.S. is still vulnerable to infection. Redfield also remarked that younger people seem to be furthering the recent spike in the coronavirus cases in areas of the West and South.
The 45,300 COVID-19 cases reported on June 26th, have broken the previous high of 36,400 new cases recorded in April, as per the tracking statistics by Johns Hopkins University. The CDC has warned about the severity of the situation and the need to observe facial covering and social distancing as states continue to reopen. As per CNN, the CDC is going to revise the recommendations about facemask wearing after studying how they are useful for source control, protecting wearers from contracting the infection while keeping others safe from getting it from them. A recent modeling study published earlier this month in Proceedings of the Royal Society A noted that if a segment of inhabitants in an area wore facial coverings in public spaces — even the DIY cloth ones — they could significantly bring down the virus transmission rate. It will also aid in preventing waves of this pandemic in the future.
How Effective are Face Masks Against COVID-19?
The U.S. is now five months and over 125,000 lives into the worst pandemic of the past 100 years. On top of that, there are no signs of a cure or a vaccine yet. There are just a few preventive precautions that can stave off the novel coronavirus infection to some extent. Washing hands with soap for 20 seconds regularly, keeping a distance of 6 feet from others, and wearing a face mask are the recommended safety measures. These simple actions are now even more necessary as restrictions have been eased. More so as people experiencing pandemic fatigue did not follow these precautions when they stepped out into public spaces and interacted with others. The resultant surge in positive infections is severely alarming. The majority of states are reporting an increase in new cases at a worryingly high rate.
Among the list of safety precautions, face masks are the most effective and necessary ones. By covering the face with a mask, you can save yourself and others from infectious viral droplets. According to some recent studies, states that require facemasks have potentially averted 230,000 to 450,000 novel coronavirus infections. Internationally, cases in Germany dropped by 40% after the public asked to wear face masks. In countries like Japan and China, where mask-wearing was made mandatory, the number of deaths has been much lower than in America. The United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA provides the standards and regulations for work environments, which also includes mask-wearing. They offer essential details about their benefits.
There are three main types of face masks that people can wear:
- N95 Respirators
These respirator masks can filter 95% of particles present in the air. These masks are meant to be worn in contaminated spaces. The medical-grade N95 masks are reserved for the workers combating the virus on the frontlines. The public can either use the surgical mask or the non-medical versions, like the New Rain K95 masks that offer similar protection. It is vital to avoid variants with a valve in them as valved masks release unfiltered air when someone exhales, which poses a risk for the people in the surroundings. After all, a mask is supposed to protect both the wearer and the people around them.
- Surgical or Medical Masks:
These are loose-fitting face masks intended to be used in sterile settings. They are meant to keep others safe from the wearer. These have thin layers of material and offer decent protection. You can also use disposable masks like the New Rain Daily Wear Disposable Protective Mask.
Cloth or fabric masks are simple face coverings. They can be crafted out of a variety of materials. However, they don’t offer the same protection as commercial face masks. They should only be used if you don’t have access to the disposable or non-medical specialized face masks.