While the Trump administration has repeatedly undermined the CDC in its efforts to combat the virus, science has proven that mask-wearing and social distancing are vital in preventing and reducing chances of transmission.
It’s been 10 months since the novel coronavirus began wreaking havoc around the world. Since its emergence, the virus has infected more than 7.3 million Americans and taken more than 208,000 lives in the United States—and shows no sign of slowing down.
No one is immune from contracting the coronavirus. Early Friday morning, President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump announced they’d tested positive for the virus, following months of disregard for social distancing guidelines, disdain for wearing masks, and frequent downplaying of COVID-19.
While the Trump administration has repeatedly and publicly attempted to undermine and delegitimize the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in its efforts to combat the virus, science has proven that mask-wearing and social distancing are vital in preventing and reducing chances of transmission.
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Scientists unanimously agree that COVID-19 spreads primarily among people through close contact. Airborne transmission is a key factor in spreading the virus: When an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks without wearing a mask, the droplets from their mouth or nose are released into the air, where they can ultimately be inhaled by someone else.
This is why public health experts say it’s imperative to wear masks—even if you’re not infected. It can prevent you from being exposed or inhaling any droplets containing the virus. Although there is a consensus to stay six feet apart from others, there is some research to indicate the virus can travel even farther.
A Virginia Commonwealth University study published this past June found that out of 198 countries, those that either mandated its citizens to wear face masks or where face-covering is the cultural norm experienced lower death rates. Another study from Health Affairs discovered that the daily COVID-19 growth rate in 15 states and the District of Columbia dropped two percentage points three weeks after it placed a mask-wearing mandate.
In addition to wearing a face covering, the most basic guidelines for mitigating the spread of the coronavirus include: wash your hands, don’t hang out in crowded areas, try to keep your distance from people outside of your household, and disinfect everything you touch—and do it often. And no matter how hard it might be, avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
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Several studies have also found that the risk of transmission is lower outdoors than indoors. If you find yourself being indoors for an extended period, be sure to open your windows to allow for more air ventilation. Investing in an air purifier can also help protect yourself from the virus since it can effectively “clean” the air you’re breathing indoors.
Although there is no proven vaccine to cure or prevent COVID-19, several trials are already well underway. If a proven vaccine does end up becoming available to the public, with such high demand, it will take some time for it to be readily available to everyone.