Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have recognized face masks, physical distancing, frequent hand washing, and staying home when sick as important tools. help reduce the spread of Sars-CoV-2. Combined with a COVID-19 vaccine, these practices will help achieve herd immunity and ultimately return us to “normal” . But it’s too early to relax now.
Wearing a mask reduces the spread of disease
Wearing a mask has been shown to be effective in reducing the spread of diseases and viruses. In Utah, this is reflected by the seven-day average of daily COVID-19 cases tracking by county. Salt Lake County saw a significant drop in coronavirus cases when it made mask-wearing mandatory on June 30, 2020. Those case trends continued to be lower than those of the Salt Lake County. the rest of the state, according to Erin Clouse, a strategic engagement manager at the University of Utah Health who tracks COVID-19 case trends in the state. Much of the country is still at high risk for COVID-19, and so face coverings are still important, she said. According to the CDC, mask wearing has also contributed to a reduction in flu activity and RSV infections across the United States.
The best news for those who are fully vaccinated. The CDC has updated its guidance on what you can do once you’ve been fully immunized, including entering a home without a mask with other fully vaccinated people and entering a home without a mask. Page with a household where unvaccinated people are not at risk of serious illness. But it’s still important to cover your face in public and when around large groups of unvaccinated people.
Why it’s important to maintain COVID precautions
Although the COVID-19 vaccine has been shown to be effective in preventing illness, we still don’t know how well it prevents the spread of the virus from person to person. . Studies are ongoing, but until we know the answer – or until we achieve herd immunity – it’s better to hide it to make sure everyone gets it. protected.
That’s not the only reason to continue COVID-19 precautions in public. “The chance of getting COVID-19 after vaccination is less than one percent, but it’s not zero,” says Emily Spivak, MD, associate professor of medicine in the Department of Infectious Diseases at the University of Utah Health. Spivak says wearing a mask reduces that very small risk to zero.
Masks will also help protect against variants of the COVID-19 virus, which are more contagious. According to the CDC, public health mitigation strategies are needed to limit the spread of COVID-19 and its variants. “There is a greater chance of contracting the virus if introduced to a variant of the virus,” says Jeanmarie Mayer, MD, epidemiologist at U of U Heath hospital. “Until we can get a high percentage of the population vaccinated, masks need to be worn.”
Masks are most effective when everyone wears one. The risk of catching COVID-19 increases when the mask is removed. “If there’s a mix of masked and non-masked people, your risk goes up,” says Spivak. “Your risk is even increased if you are not vaccinated.” The CDC recommends that people wear masks in public places, at events and gatherings, and anywhere with other people around.
“We have worked very hard during this pandemic to create a safe work environment,” said Alison Flynn Gaffney, executive director of service, ancillary and support services lines at U of U Health. whole. She added that it would be a pity to lose the position now. “Part of going back to normal is adhering to the mask.”