Contrary to a letter published in the Spokesman-Review on Friday, May 22 (Cloth mask increases risk), more recent studies have shown that using cloth face masks, especially those made of multiple layers or a specific combination of different fabrics, are effective at blocking virus transmission [ACS Nano. 2020 April 24; acsnano.0c03252. DOI:10.1021/acsnano.0c03252].
Furthermore, modeling the potential benefit of wearing “even relatively ineffective face masks” in public, specifically in Washington state, indicates that “broad adoption of [such face masks] may meaningfully reduce community transmission of COVID-19, … [and] 80% adoption of such masks could reduce mortality by 24-65%” [Infect Dis Model. 2020 April 21;5:293-308. DOI: 10.1016/j.idm.2020.04.001].
In these trying times, we citizens need up-to-date, relevant information that helps guide our decisions as to how to best protect ourselves and each other from this virus. Bottom line: well-fitted, multiple-layer cloth face masks can provide significant protection against the transmission of aerosol particles, such as viruses, while keeping in mind that we still need to frequently wash our hands and follow social distancing guidelines.