Questioning our reliance on cloth masks

Cloth masks are widely used in the U.S., but some experts say surgical masks could offer better protection against COVID-19.

An October 4, 2021 article in The Atlantic noted that cloth masks are still recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), they’re inexpensive, and they’re eco-friendly. But a growing body of research suggests that surgical masks might be a better choice. The article cited one recent study that linked wearing surgical masks with an 11.2% decrease in COVID-19 symptoms and antibodies, while cloth masks were associated with only a 5% decrease.

William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, told the Atlantic that surgical masks are like a sturdy, well-made umbrella, while cloth masks are more like a cheap umbrella that turns inside out. He said he hopes that the CDC “would be able to convey the message that all masks are not alike, just like all umbrellas are not alike.”

Read the Atlantic article: Why Are Americans Still—Still!—Wearing Cloth Masks?