DENVER (CBS4) – As the U.S. notched a new record number of cases of COVID-19 Thursday, at over 71,000 according to data from Johns Hopkins University, Gov. Jared Polis joined states getting aggressive with a requirement of wearing masks indoors. Through the pandemic, evidence has been increasing that wearing masks are our best bet.
“This is where you’ve got to get out of the idea of everything has to be 100% to be worthwhile,” said infectious disease expert Dr. Michelle Barron of UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital.
Dr. Barron points to a study coming out soon in the Journal of Health Affairs shows states that have implemented mask rules have fared better, with hundreds of thousands of cases of COVID-19 likely averted.
“We are learning more and more with good solid evidence that masks do work,” said Dr. Barron.
Even Dr. Barron, in the early days of the pandemic, was skeptical of the efficacy of the wide wearing of masks, but her views have changed.
“I think all of us have evolved just because there’s better science, there’s more data.”
Wearing a mask protects us from sharing the disease with others. Experts know many cases are shared when people are pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic.
“More than 30%, potentially, maybe upwards of 50%, depending on what material. If you start getting into the real like medical grade masks then it goes down even more significantly, 80-90%,” said Dr. Barron.
Of course it also depends on how well we fit our masks and it’s important to keep our hands away from our faces. Experts are also getting better numbers on the amount of protection from infection there is with mask wearing. Ten to thirty percent is probably the likelihood,” said Dr. Barron. And the percentage wearing a surgical N95 mask is likely north of 90%.
Science is evolving on masks and treatments, but right now, the best protection is covering up.
“From a legislative standpoint, from a public health standpoint, it makes sense,” she said.