March 16, 2020

This poster was just created and advises individuals to wear masks in public. It is based on a similar poster that the Cleveland Clinic posted yesterday but that stops short of recommending that everyone wear a mask in public. A few weeks ago, even the Cleveland Clinics poster would have seemed strange. Recently, there has been a growing amount of media coverage asking questions about why individuals in the USA aren’t wearing masks in public. The truth is we should be wearing them in public and I have provided several reasons in other posts. We need to do this before it’s too late! There are countries that are doing better than others in containing Coronavirus. For example, Italy is not doing particularly well. Singapore is doing relatively well. You will observe that in most countries that are doing a good job containing Coronavirus, there has been a difference in public health messaging and in the behavior of the populations as it relates to wearing masks.

In Asia, almost everyone wears a mask in public because they know, from experience, that it works. They realize it makes sense to wear a mask to prevent infected droplets from getting everywhere–including into your our own mouth. Even if public health officials in their county say it isn’t required that every person wears a mask in every situation, most people still wear one in public. In contrast, in the USA we think that the people wearing masks are hypochondriacs. If you wear a mask in the street you get looked at like you are insane. The messaging being provided by the CDC and WHO appears to have left out any mention of wearing masks in public and has even led some people to wonder whether masks are really effective in any situation.

If you look at the populations of the countries with the lowest rates of infections and deaths around the world, you will notice it is in countries where the populations generally wear masks in public. After having been through this twice before they have learned from the past. We need to mirror what those countries are doing. I can tell you after reviewing vast amounts of scientific literature that I have come across no convincing evidence suggesting that masks or any face covering won’t work to contain the Coronavirus. On the country, there is some evidence that the masks will help stop infection. In consideration of these facts, I have concluded that common sense trumps any lack of evidence. As I have written before, a lack of evidence is not proof that something works. It only proves that we don’t have enough evidence yet. By relying on the current science but also by observing and relying on countries that have experienced similar pandemics for expertise, we can have a more effective response.

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