Even when a COVID-19 vaccine becomes widely available, masks might still be around for a while. Many Americans say their perspective has shifted, saying they'd be comfortable wearing a mask in a crowded setting from now on.
UNT Health Science Center Epidemiologist Dr. Diana Cervantes says she doesn't think there's necessarily going to be a new normal, but she does think long after this pandemic is over there is going to be a higher level of acceptance when it comes to wearing masks in public.
Cervantes says, typically, when people saw others wearing masks before, they were a little apprehensive. You may have thought something was wrong with that person. But now, she says it's become more widely accepted that somebody may be wearing a mask not because they're sick, but because they're trying to protect themselves from others.
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced this week it is increasingly clear that the benefit of wearing masks is a two-way street.
Masks protect wearers, and everyone else.
"It really was, I think, the old thought before, that the general public shouldn't wear masks, really because they don't know how to wear them properly and then that might put them at more risk," said Dr. Diana Cervantes, UNT Health Science Center Epidemiologist. "But the reality is, that what we've seen from outbreaks and clusters of cases, is that in general, they work very well, especially if you have the right type of mask, so I do think it's a culture shift in that people have now seen in this context of this pandemic, how masks can protect people."
Doctors say if you're going to commit to wearing a mask, wear one that offers as much protection as possible. Doctors and public health experts believe that American culture could shift to embrace this new hygiene culture.