According to an analysis by The Philadelphia Inquirer, coronavirus cases seem to be rising overall in states with relaxed face-mask rules. By contrast, The Inquirer found that new cases had fallen by 25% in total over the past two weeks in states that mandated masks in public.
On aggregate, the states that require mask wearing by both employees and customers at local businesses (depending on the state, those rules might apply to restaurants, retailers, or personal care) have seen a 12% drop in cases. Indiana, Pennsylvania, and Washington all fall on that list. States that require masks only for the employees of certain businesses, however — that includes Florida, Georgia, and Nevada — have seen a 70% increase in new cases, on average. In Springfield, Missouri, last month, two hair stylists at the Great Clips salon tested positive for COVID-19. They had seen 140 customers since the salon reopened. But of the 46 customers tested, none were positive.
The likely explanation for this lack of transmission was that all employees and customers had worn masks.
"Which mask worked, the hairdresser's or the client's? I think the answer is yes. They both worked, " Robin Trotman, an infectious-disease specialist in Springfield, told The Washington Post.
Masks make a difference because coronavirus particles pass between people in tiny droplets of saliva and mucus. If a sick person sneezes, coughs, talks, or eats within 6 feet of someone else, the particles could land on them and enter the eyes, nose, or mouth. That's how infection spreads. So a mask that covers our nose and mouth helps block those particles.
"It does have some protection for the wearer, " Dr. Ramzi Asfour, an infectious-disease doctor in the San Francisco Bay Area, previously told Business Insider. "If you think about somebody sneezing on you, there's a lot of these droplets that come out. Well, a lot of those droplets are big and they'll easily be stopped by the mask. "
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