Wearing a face mask will help prevent the spread of infection and prevent the individual from contracting any airborne infectious germs. When someone coughs, talks, sneezes they could release germs into the air that may infect others nearby. Face masks are part of an infection control strategy to eliminate cross-contamination.
The face masks recommended during the 1918 pandemic were made of heavy-duty six-ply cotton gauze. They were thick and no particular joy to wear. People who refused to wear them or couldn’t be bothered were called “mask slackers” or “mask scoffers.” During World War I, the term slacker described people who neglected their patriotic duty, almost as bad as being a draft dodger.
The 1918 influenza pandemic was the most severe pandemic in recent history. It was caused by an H1N1 virus with genes of avian origin. Although there is not universal consensus regarding where the virus originated, it spread worldwide during 1918-1919. In the United States, it was first identified in military personnel in spring 1918. It is estimated that about 500 million people or one-third of the world’s population became infected with this virus. The number of deaths was estimated to be at least 50 million worldwide with about 675,000 occurring in the United States.
COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2, has already proved extremely infectious. It had infected 14,507,491 million people globally and more than 3.4 million in the U.S. as of Tuesday, according to official figures collated by Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering. The disease had claimed at least 606,173 lives worldwide and 142,601 in the U.S.
Health experts say the evidence is clear that masks can help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and that the more people wearing masks, the better. Masks may be more effective as a “source control” because they can prevent larger expelled droplets from evaporating into smaller droplets that can travel farther. I think there’s enough evidence to say that the best benefit is for people who have COVID-19 to protect them from giving COVID-19 to other people, but you’re still going to get a benefit from wearing a mask if you don’t have COVID-19.
It used to be that masks were recommended only for people who knew they had COVID-19, as a way to protect others around them. When it became apparent, however, that the virus can be transmitted by people before they start showing symptoms (pre-symptomatic) and by people who never develop symptoms (asymptomatic).
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