Centers for Disease Control and Prevention chart
By Melissa Patrick
Kentucky Health News
Two years into the pandemic, many people still refuse to wear a face mask as part of a holistic approach to slow the spread of a virus that has killed more than 13,000 Kentuckians, despite public-health officials begging them to do so – and a wealth of research that supports their pleas.
On Friday, another such study was released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, showing real-world evidence that masks work, and that the type of masks you wear matters.
“In addition to being up to date with recommended Covid-19 vaccinations, consistently wearing a comfortable, well-fitting face mask or respirator in indoor public settings protects against acquisition of [Covid-19] infection; a respirator offers the most protection,” says the early release report.
The researchers said their study has limitations, but the results are consistent with previous research showing that masks prevent the spread of the virus.
The study assessed face-mask or respirator use among 652 people who tested positive for the virus and 1,176 who tested negative from Feb. 18 to Dec. 1, 2021 and self-reported being in indoor public settings during the two weeks preceding their test, with no known contact with any confirmed or suspected Covid-19 infection. The samples were randomly selected residents of California.
The study concluded, “Always using a face mask or respirator in indoor public settings was associated with lower adjusted odds of a positive test result, compared with never wearing a face mask or respirator in these settings.”
Among the 534 study participants who reported the type of mask they used, cloth masks offered 56% more protection against the virus than wearing no mask indoors; surgical masks offered 66% more; and respirator mask, such as N95 or KN95, offered the most additional protection, 83%.
“These data from real-world settings reinforce the importance of consistently wearing face masks or respirators to reduce the risk of acquisition of infection among the general public in indoor community settings,” the report says.