The CDC said in its new directive that cloth masks act as “source control” to block out virus particles exhaled by the wearer and provide a “personal protection filter” by blocking infectious droplets from others.
The CDC noted that in several scenarios, when officials asked people to wear masks, injuries and deaths were dramatically reduced.
“Adopting global concealment policies can help avoid future closures, especially if combined with other nonpharmaceutical interventions such as social distancing, hand hygiene and adequate ventilation,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.
The agency cited an economic analysis that found that a 15% increase in universal coverage could prevent losses of up to a trillion dollars.
“The relationship between source control and personal protection is likely to be complementary and possibly synergistic, with individual benefits increasing with increasing use of the community mask,” the CDC said.
The CDC said that some cloth masks are nearly as good as surgical masks at preventing drips. The CDC said that polypropylene may generate a steady charge that captures particles, while silk may repel wet drops and be more comfortable.
“The multiple layers of fabric with the highest thread count showed superior performance compared to the single layers of fabric with the lowest thread count, and in some cases filtered out nearly 50% of fine particles less than 1 micron in size,” the CDC said.
“It’s a two-way street,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Tuesday on MSNBC. “You protect others, their mask protects you, and your mask protects you too.”