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Consider a face mask or face covering when in public, here's why that is a good idea.

After receiving death threats in response to her county-wide face mask order, requiring people to wear a face-covering in public, Dr. Nichole Quick resigned as Orange County's chief health official in early June. Shortly after which, California's Gov. Gavin Newsom put out a state-wide order requiring Californians to wear a face-covering public.

While wearing a face mask has been a topic of fierce debate between politicians,a growing number of scientific studies support the idea that masks are a critical tool in curbing the spread of the coronavirus.

To support, take a look at a meta-analysis of 172 studies that looked at various interventions to prevent the transmission of COVID-19, SARS, and MERS from an infected person to people close to them. The analysis, which was published in The Lancet on June 1, found that mask-wearing significantly reduces the risk of viral transmission.

Researchers state there are two main reasons to wear masks: 1) There's some evidence of protection for the wearer, but the stronger evidence is that masks protect others from catching an infection from the person wearing the mask. And 2) infected people can spread the virus just by talking.

Linsey Marr, a researcher at Virginia Tech who studies the airborne transmission of viruses, references a study published in Nature Medicine in April that looked at people infected with the flu and seasonal coronaviruses. This study found that even loose-fitting surgical masks blocked almost all the contagious droplets the wearers breathed out and even some of those pesky infectious tiny particles that can linger in the air (aerosols).

In my opinion, an important study to reference for universal face mask use was one published in late May in BMJ Global Health. This study was fantastic because it looked at people in households in Beijing where one person was confirmed to have COVID-19. The co-author of the study, Raina MacIntyre, points out that research was already showing that the majority of transmission of the virus was happening inside households, and China, already had a culture of mask-wearing. However, to keep this short, the study found that in households where everyone was wearing a face mask indoors as a precaution before they knew anyone who lived there was sick, the risk of transmission was cut by 79%!

"The more people that wore a mask, the more protective it was," says MacIntyre, head of the biosecurity program at the Kirby Institute at the University of New South Wales in Australia. In other words, when everyone wore a mask, it protected the whole household.

So even though it's inconvenient, not rebellious, uncomfortable, or whatever reason you have for not wearing a facemask in public (if you don't wear one). Consider just being respectful and considerate of the people around you. All the people who are wearing a mask, it's not for them. Unless it is an N95 (which are still in high demand and short supply), the surgical masks or fabric face coverings are only protecting the people around them (i.e. YOU). So please, show the same courtesy, respect, and kindess to help protect them, as others are helping to protect you.

Check out NPR's tutorial for safe DIY masks, tips for improving design.

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