Strong science emerging on effectiveness of masks
|As the number of COVID-19 cases increases in the Kansas City metropolitan region, local public health experts across the metro, along with hospital officials, emergency medical services professionals and emergency managers, have issued a joint statement urging residents to wear a face covering in public to help slow the spread of the disease:|
“Research shows that wearing a face mask is the most effective and least costly strategy to curb the spread of COVID-19. We strongly urge residents to wear a mask in all public settings. When combined with other precautions, this small step can help keep our communities safe and our businesses open.”
Signed by the region’s public health directors:Rex Archer, MD, MPH, Kansas City, Missouri Health DepartmentSanmi Areola, PhD, Johnson County Department of Health & EnvironmentBridgette Shaffer, MPH, Jackson County Health DepartmentShelby Spor, BSN, RN, Ray County Health DepartmentMary Jo Vernon, BSN, RN, Platte County Health DepartmentJuliann Van Liew, MPH, Unified Government Public Health DepartmentAndrew Warlen, MPH, Cass County Health DepartmentGary Zaborac, MS, Clay County Public Health Center“There is compelling evidence showing that wearing face masks is an effective way to reduce the number of infections,” said Dr. Erin Corriveau, Deputy Health Officer in Wyandotte County and family physician at KU Medical Center. “The most virulent and most dominant form of transmission of COVID-19 is through airborn spread, which occurs via close person-to-person contact. So, even if you don’t feel sick, you could potentially pass the virus along to others. We have excellent research proving that wearing masks significantly reduces this transmission.”
Research released this month examined 172 observational studies across the globe and found support for the use of masks as an important method to reduce the risk of infection. Another study indicated the spread of COVID-19 could be significantly reduced by members of the public wearing masks.
“Wearing a face covering helps protect you and others,” said Dr. Michael Moncure with Truman Medical Centers. “We recommend keeping the mask on your face for the entire time you’re in public. This small action has an impact on the safety of our loved ones and community.”
While wearing a face mask is an important way to avoid contracting or spreading COVID-19, residents are also advised to continue practicing social distancing, wash hands often, stay at home if you are sick and frequently clean high-touch surfaces.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, individuals who should not wear cloth face masks include children under age 2, or anyone who has trouble breathing, is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance. Surgical masks or N-95 respirators should be reserved for healthcare workers and first responders.
Residents can visit www.preparemetrokc.org or their local health department’s website for information on reducing their risk of illness from COVID-19.