Widespread use of face masks can significantly help stop coronavirus outbreaks in communities, a new study found.
The study, published Tuesday in The Lancet Digital Health and based on a survey of 300,000 U.S. residents between June 3 and July 27, looked intensely at the link between self-reported mask wearing, social distancing and coronavirus transmission, CNN reported.
The study concluded a 10% increase in self-reported mask-wearing could lead to a threefold jump in the chance of maintaining sufficient control over coronavirus transmission in a community.
“Wearing face masks or face coverings in public spaces has been mandated by governments around the world to try and stem transmission of COVID-19,” said John Brownstein of Boston’s Children’s Hospital, who was the study’s senior author, CNN reported. “The aim is to provide a physical barrier that prevents the spread of virus-laden droplets. However, past evidence on the effectiveness of mask use against COVID-19 transmission is mixed and setting up randomized controlled trials to investigate this is challenging.”
Brownstein added governmental mandates to wear face masks may not be enough to stem the tide of coronavirus cases and suggested additional strategies to observe and bolster mask participation to prevent spreading of the virus, CNN reported.
The study found mask-wearing was most prevalent among people 65 and older, as well as among African Americans and Latinos.
The study also found that mask use varied to according to geographical location with the highest number of wearers along the East and West coasts, the country’s southern border and in urban areas.