Surgeon General Jerome Adams advised Americans to wear masks to protect themselves from COVID-19 and to achieve greater freedom amid the coronavirus pandemic.
According to a FOX report, Adams said that face masks do not prevent “freedom,” but instead help the economy be up and running.
“Some feel face coverings infringe on their freedom of choice- but if more wear them, we’ll have MORE freedom to go out,” Adams tweeted on Sunday, June 14, adding that wearing face masks reduces the asymptomatic viral spread and leads more places to reopen.
“Exercise and promote your freedom by choosing to wear a face-covering!” he added.
The surgeon general’s comment is far from his original statement in February that masks are “not effective” at preventing the spread of COVID-19. Instead, he advised people to stay home when they are sick and thoroughly wash their hands with soap and water.
However, after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published new guidelines in April urging Americans to wear face masks while in public, Dr. Adams changed his tone.
Despite the new guidelines, hundreds of people oppose face mask-wearing policy and have even gone out to challenge it. Meanwhile, some stores have begun to turn away customers who are wearing masks. In a Kentucky convenience store, a signage saying, “No face masks allowed. Lower you masks or go somewhere else” was put up.
While protesters argue that the order is anti-American and curtails their freedom, the government upholds the policy to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
A World Health Organization-funded review and meta-analysis studied data from 172 studies from 16 countries and six continents, as reported by Forbes. According to the study, which was published in The Lancet, the risk of transmitting coronavirus is 17.4% more without a mask, while the number drops to 3.1% when wearing a face mask or an N95 respirator.
“Our findings continued to support the ideas not only that masks, in general, are associated with a large reduction in risk of infection from SARS-CoV-2, SARS-CoV, and MERS-CoV but also that N95 or similar respirators might be associated with a larger degree of protection from viral infection than disposable medical masks or reusable multilayer (12-16-layer) cotton masks,” the analysis wrote.
Also, keeping a social distance of three to six feet reduces the infection rate from 12.8% to 2.6%. The study also wrote that physical distancing primarily aims to prevent onward transmission and reduce the harmful effects of COVID-19. Thus, the review suggests the implementation of a physical distancing policy of at least one to two meters.
Medical experts said that coronavirus spreads via droplets from a COVID-19 patient’s speech, sneeze, or cough, although an asymptomatic person may still transmit the disease.
“The use of a mask alone is insufficient to provide an adequate level of protection or source control, and other personal and community level measures should also be adopted to suppress transmission of respiratory viruses,” the World Health Organization said.
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