Gallup says that 90% regularly wear masks…

So, if masks work, why are COVID cases soaring?
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COVID cases are soaring … and while the infection-to-fatality rate has dropped significantly, the daily tally of new deaths has been creeping up.

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CDC Director Redfield has testified:

Face coverings are the most powerful public health tool” the nation has against the coronavirus and “might even provide better protection against it than a vaccine.

The COVID death rate will be cut in half if mask compliance were 100%

With that in mind, a recent  WSJ article on “COVID" Fatigue” had a chart that caught my eye.

The high red line below  is the percentage of people who claim that they regularly wear masks when they leave home.

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Bottom line: Gallup says that over 90% of respondents claim they wear masks in public settings … that’s up from 80% who said so in May.

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Connecting the dots: Redfield says masks are more effective than vaccines … and, the vast majority of people say they regularly wear masks … but, cases are soaring.

How can that be?

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For openers, all masks are not created equal.

My best science source does work with both the NIH and the Chinese science community. 

Their assessment: masks are about 15% effective inhibiting the exhaling or inhaling of the coronavirus.

Consistent with that estimate, a WSJ article took a stab at mask efficacy by type of mask:

An N95 respirator masks offer the best protection and, if used properly, will filter out at least 95% of infectious particles (which is why it’s called an N95).

The CDC web site says: “N95 Respirators Are Not for Use by the General Public”

A surgical mask offers protection on the order of 60%.

Quality (not color) matters.

Many of the “blue masks” sold online are intended to filter dust and allergens not infectious particles.

They aren’t really surgical masks like the ones worn by nurses and doctors … and, they only offer the protection level of a typical cotton cloth mask.

A cotton mask offers about 30% protection from infectious particles.

On its web site, the CDC “Recommends Cloth Face Coverings for Use by the General Public”

Scarves, bandannas and gators filter out 10% (or less).

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Folks seem to be following the CDC direction to use cloth masks… or, making a fashion-based decision, opting for a low efficacy option (e.g. a gator).

The overall mix of general population masks probably falls in the range of 10% to 30% efficacy … in line with the 15% estimate that I got from my best science sources.

So, even if the vast majority of people are wearing masks … but the masks offer relatively little virus protection …  cases can keep spreading.

It’s as simple as that.

Bottom line: Don’t count on a mask to protect you … stay away from hot spots and strangers.

One Response to “Gallup says that 90% regularly wear masks…”

  1. Mask wearing up, cases up, deaths up … huh? | The Homa Files Says:

    […] For info re: mask effectiveness, see: Gallup says that 90% regularly wear masks… […]

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