Studies Show Wearing Face Masks Can Prevent Coronavirus Spread

Whether they're mandated or not, face mask use can help prevent cases of COVID-19

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A growing number of studies show face masks reduce the spread of coronavirus, which is why local doctors are sounding the alarm about the need for everyone to wear a face covering.

It's three months into the coronavirus pandemic and scientists have a better idea of how most people get infected.

It's not through touching contaminated surfaces or fleeting encounters with others outdoors.

It's through close-up, person-to-person interactions for extended periods of time, or in crowded events, poorly ventilated areas and places where people are talking loudly.

They're places where, doctors say, you should be wearing a mask.

"There are people trying very hard and are doing it, are wearing masks all the time and I think they're quite rightly afraid of this pandemic. They're afraid of going out, exposing others or getting exposed," said UT Southwestern Epidemiologist Dr. Robert Haley.

A study out this week shows face masks reduce spread of the virus, especially because many people are contagious before they have symptoms.

An estimated 230,000 to 450,000 cases of COVID-19 were prevented in the states that enacted requirements for mask use between April 8 and May 15, according to that study.

Whether they're required or not, local top epidemiologists believe masks, in areas where social distancing isn't possible, are key to avoiding a bigger surge and an economic fallout.

"A quarter of our population are not afraid of it and I think that's naive because we are seeing it now spread to all different kinds of people and those people are venturing out, going about their business and not wearing a mask. Those are the people contributing to maintaining this status quo. That is going to sink our economy in the long term," said Haley.

*Map locations are approximate, central locations for the city and are not meant to indicate where actual infected people live.

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