WASHINGTON (CBS46) – A new study from the National Academy of Sciences said face coverings (masks) are the best way to avoid catching COVID-19 and that other measures to avoid the virus lie social distancing are, “insufficient by themselves in protesting the public."
The study was first published Thursday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. The study’s authors said the main determining factor in shaping the trends of the pandemic was whether the population in an affected area was or wasn’t wearing masks.
“This protective measure alone (wearing masks) significantly reduced the numbers, that is, by over 78,000 in Italy from April 6 to May 9 and over 66,000 from April 17 to May 9,” the researchers wrote. “We conclude that wearing of masks in public corresponds to the most effective means to prevent interhuman transmission, and this inexpensive practice, in conjunction with simultaneous social distancing, quarantine, and contact tracing, represents the most likely fighting opportunity to stop the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The release of the research comes as many Americans have started to fight against the wearing of masks in public with many claiming it’s infringing on their rights as Americans. The divide over wearing masks or not has also broken down along partisan lines with some Republican supporters favoring not wearing masks and some Democratic supporters saying masks are needed. For the researchers, they said science was crucial to future decisions.
“It is also important to emphasize that sound science should be effectively communicated to policy makers and should constitute the prime foundation in decision-making amid this pandemic,” the researchers wrote. “Implementing policies without a scientific basis could lead to catastrophic consequences, particularly in light of attempts to reopen the economy in many countries.”