For the first time, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended that even seemingly healthy people wear face mask over their mouths and noses when venturing out with their homes into places where it is sometimes complicated to keep distance off their people. But there is still major debate over just how much masks — particularly the homemade fabric masks the CDC recommends for that public — can slow the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
As states reopen amid the continuing Covid-19 pandemic, lots of people are documenting still-rising levels of new cases. This is partly, or largely, due to bad pandemic-time behavior—that is, not wearing masks rather than social-distancing. Even in New York, that has done this well in reducing its numbers, everyone is getting weary plus a little sloppy with protections. A new study outside in the journal Proceedings in the National Academy of Sciences finds that among all of the techniques for reducing transmission, wearing markers will be the central variable that determines the spread from the virus.
But some people decide to add an additional filter in their masks being an extra protective layer to mimic the powerful N95 masks used in hospital settings. DIY masks made out of HEPA vacuum bag filters and coffee filters already are beginning to gain popularity on Pinterest. And odds are, you’ve probably seen them on Instagram, too.
Influenza research finds so easy surgical masks is able to reduce the quantity of exhaled viruses in large droplets by 96%, as well as in aerosols by 64%. Another recent paper also confirms that easy surgical masks can help to eliminate the detection of seasonal coronavirus in both aerosols and larger droplets. (For a deeper dive on aerosols and droplets, read my article about airborne viruses.)
However, the general public should not wear N95 markers or surgical face masks since the global supply is limited (on N95 and surgical masks below).