With today's new normal, we see people from all over the world wearing a mask outdoors and especially when in a crowded place to protect themselves from getting infected with COVID-19.
The Strait Times report said that even when people are far away from each other, they put their masks on. Specifically, in Maine, it has kept in place outdoor mask directives for hiking on trails and beaches.
But how helpful is wearing masks in combating COVID-19? Scientists have recently discovered a lot about this virus since the onset of the pandemic.
When it comes to the manner of transmission of the virus, it's already known that surfaces are not a major vector and intensified initiatives to clean them are said to be a misplaced use of both time and resources, as reported by Global News.
COVID-19 is Airborne
Now, experts believe that COVID-19 is mainly airborne. Meaning, it is mostly transmitted through fine respiratory particles that stay suspended in the air for some time, in contrast to larger droplets produced from sneezing and coughing falling rapidly to the ground.
According to leading aerosol scientist Dr. Jose-Luis Jimenez, from the University of Colorado Boulder, the findings make the outdoors much safer as compared to indoors.
Indoors, he said, are now much more dangerous as "the walls and the ceiling, and the floor traps the air," especially if there is low ventilation.
The expert also explained that outdoors are much less dangerous as there is a lot more air motion, and air that's breathed out rises specifically in warmer weather. He emphasized though, low risk does not mean any risk at all.
Should We Always Wear Mask?
University of Maryland professor Dr. Donald Milton, one of the pioneers in aerosol science, advised the public to avoid crowds outdoor specifically if there is shouting involved and the air is motionless.
He does not think though, that people should put their masks on at all times. He said when he goes jogging around the neighborhood, where the houses are separated by 10 meters or farther, and there are only a few people out walking their dogs or children playing in yards, he is carrying his mask with him.
Despite what Milton said about not necessarily wearing masks all the time, according to public health expert Dr. Amesh Adalja from Johns Hopkins University, it was now time to bring back outdoor mask directives and implement a more nuanced method better aligned with science.
He explained that since masks have turned out to be so "infused with politics," they have turned out to be where people are going around and 'mask shame' other people. He added that he thinks that the same is counterproductive.
Beneficial for Unvaccinated People
Adalja also said that they want people, especially those unvaccinated, to wear masks when they are in indoor situations where social distancing is almost impossible.
Furthermore, measures that develop the impression that the outdoors are dangerous tend to keep people indoors, which is actually much more dangerous, added the expert.
A related report is shown on John Hopkins' YouTube Video below:
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