By Robin Foster
TUESDAY July 14, 2020 (HealthDay News) – As Americans continue to question whether face masks can stop the spread of coronavirus, a new report offers convincing evidence that coatings work well.
In May, two hairdressers in a Missouri salon who had COVID-19 but wore face masks cut the hair of 139 masked clients for about a week and did not infect any clients. The researchers also did not infect any of the salon’s customers or other stylists’ contacts.
The first stylist worked with clients for eight days while being symptomatic, while the second stylist did the same for five days, the researchers wrote.
“The message is clear: face masks work,” said Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency room physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York. “They prevent the transmission of COVID-19 by those who are symptomatic and asymptomatic.” He was not involved in the study.
“We must enforce the use of face masks in all indoor activities due to poor ventilation which increases the risk of transmission,” added Glatter.
The authors of the new report agree.
“These results support the use of face covers in places open to the public, especially when social distance is not possible, to reduce the spread of SARS-CoV-2,” they concluded. “With the potential for presymptomatic and asymptomatic transmission, the widespread adoption of policies requiring masks in public places should be considered to reduce the impact and magnitude of the additional waves of COVID-19.”
Some of the stylists’ close contacts did not perform as well, noted the report’s authors. The first stylist’s four contacts, who lived in the same house, were then tested positive for COVID-19, while none of the second stylist’s close contacts became symptomatic.
The report was published July 14 in the CDC publication Weekly Morbidity and Mortality Report.
The research team, led by Dr. Robin Trotman, an infectious disease specialist based in St. Louis, noted several limitations to the results: Although the local health service monitored all clients exposed for symptoms of COVID- 19, only 67 were actually tested and any COVID-19 test performed too early could have given a false negative; no information was collected on the underlying medical conditions or the use of other personal protection such as gloves and hand hygiene; clients who interacted with the stylists before they developed symptoms were not recruited for contact tracing; and most stylists cut hair while clients are facing them, which could have limited transmission.
However, “the consistent and correct use of face covers, if applicable, is an important tool to minimize the spread of SARS-CoV-2 in pre-symptomatic, asymptomatic and symptomatic people,” the researchers concluded.
Dr. Eric Cioe Pena, Director of Global Health at Northwell Health in New Hyde Park, NY, reviewed the results and expressed them more directly.
The report is “a very powerful message about the game-changing masks and masks in the fight against coronaviruses,” he said. “This is probably the most effective public health measure we have taken so far. It should not be controversial, it is good science and has the potential to get us back as quickly as possible. normal economic situation as quickly as possible.
“The level of infectivity of a person wearing a mask is significantly reduced and they can protect you from infection even before they know they are sick,” added Pena. “Ignore the usefulness and use of face covers at your own risk.”
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