Yes, masks are here to stay for the foreseeable future. They are proven and highly recommended to help prevent a person who is sick from spreading viruses to others. It’s a simple barrier to help prevent respiratory droplets from traveling into the air and onto other people when the person wearing the mask coughs, sneezes, or even talks. This is called source control. This recommendation is based on what is known about the role respiratory droplets play in the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19, paired with emerging evidence from clinical and laboratory studies that shows masks reduce the spray of droplets when worn over the nose and mouth.
COVID-19 spreads mainly among people who are in close contact with one another, within about 6 feet, so the use of masks is particularly important in settings where people are close to each other or where social distancing is difficult to maintain. The CDC recommends that everyone 2 years and older wear a mask in public settings and when around people who don’t live in your household, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
COVID-19 can be spread by people who don’t display symptoms and do not know that they are infected. That’s why it’s important for everyone to wear masks in public settings and practice social distancing by staying at least 6 feet away from each other.
Masks are a critical preventive measure and are most essential in times when social distancing is difficult. If masks cannot be used, make sure to take other measures to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spread, including social distancing, frequent hand washing, and cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces.