How masks aim to stop asymptomatic COVID-19 spread
In an effort to combat the spread of the coronavirus, some state and local governments now require citizens to wear masks in public spaces or essential businesses.
While Houston does not have an order for citizens to wear protective personal equipment when leaving the house yet, chair of clinical sciences at the UH College of Medicine Dr. Brian Reed said that masks aims to protect people from carriers of the virus.
“The rationale for wearing a mask when leaving home is that we are aware that we have individuals who are asymptomatic that could possibly spread the COVID-19 virus,” said Reed.
People who don’t show the symptoms of the virus, such as a fever, cough or shortness of breath, are able to spread the virus before they become symptomatic, said Reed.
Though Houston’s local government does not have a mask mandate yet, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends using cloth face coverings in public settings or other spaces where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
“It is a control measure that has been done in Asia during previous respiratory virus outbreaks as part of an effort to control the spread of infection,” he said.
Although wearing masks in public is a measure that should be taken when running essential errands, it is imperative that everyone stays home to lessen the spread of the virus.
“Staying home is the number one thing that people can do,” said Dr. Reed, “The virus needs a host and it tends to cluster in groups of people.”
The surgeon general of the United States, Jerome Adams, also encouraged the public to make their own masks if none were available to them when in situations where social distancing can’t be maintained.
Scott Savage, assistant professor of sociology at UH, says that the key to influencing others to wear masks is if they see influential figures doing so.
“Research tells us that both the number of folks who hold an opinion and the relative status of those individuals combine to affect how susceptible someone is to the influence of others,” he said, “This particular case suggests that if we want people to wear masks, then we should encourage high-status people to wear them and we should wear them ourselves.”
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