Scientists Stress That Masks Still Work Against Covid
Though the federal transportation masking requirement was tossed out by a Florida judge, health experts note it's still advisable to wear masks on aircraft and in other places depending on the risks — because masks do reduce your chances of inhaling virus-carrying particles.
The Washington Post:
Keep Wearing Your Mask On Planes, Health Experts Say
The federal requirement to mask up on planes and other forms of transportation was tossed Monday by a federal judge in Florida. But health experts say those who want to protect themselves from the coronavirus as cases rise again should continue to cover their faces — with the best possible mask. “You can quote me on this: I’m going to continue to wear an N95 mask,” said David Freedman, professor emeritus of infectious diseases at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. “No question. You have no idea who’s on a plane.” He added: “I think everyone should.” (Sampson, 4/19)
Are HEPA Filters On Airplanes Enough?
Weeks before a federal judge’s ruling led U.S. airlines to drop mask mandates, airline executives argued masks no longer should be required – in part because air filtration systems on planes create “hospital-grade cabin air.” Now that masks are optional on every major U.S. airline, experts said the filters that remove 99% of particles, including viruses, will help keep transmission on flights low but won't eliminate the risk of spreading COVID-19 that masks helped mitigate. (Kenning and Rodriguez, 4/20)
The New York Times:
Does My Mask Protect Me Against Covid-19 If Others Don't Wear One?
On most planes, the cabin air is frequently pumped through high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters that are pretty good at reducing virus transmission. But that doesn’t completely eliminate your risk. In a modeling study published in December 2021, researchers found that passengers sitting in the same row or one row away from someone who had Covid-19 still had a high risk of being infected through direct respiratory droplets. Wearing a mask reduced the risk of infection by 54 percent. (Parker-Pope and Sheikh, 4/19)
The Wall Street Journal:
Should You Wear A Mask Anyway As Federal Mandates Are Dropped For Airports, Airlines?
Although much of the U.S. no longer requires people to wear masks in indoor public settings, there are still scenarios where wearing a mask could be beneficial, public health and infectious disease experts say. Factors that help determine whether you should consider masking include local Covid-19 levels, where you are going and your underlying health conditions. (Abbott, 4/19)
Is Wearing A Mask While Traveling Still Helpful If You're The Only One?
Face masks offer the most protection against the spread of virus-carrying particles in the air when everyone wears them. But research also suggests that masks can protect the wearer alone, by acting as a barrier between particles and their nose and mouth. (Howard, 4/19)
EXPLAINER: What Happens In The Post-Mask World Of Travel?
Air filtration on planes is generally excellent, but boarding and exiting a plane can put people close together in spaces with poor ventilation, said Dr. Babak Javid, a physician-scientist at the University of California, San Francisco. The risk on other forms of transportation varies. Dr. David Dowdy, an infectious-disease epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said planes can carry the virus from place to place, but that we should be focusing more on big indoor events such as concerts and sporting events — even large weddings — where people get together and talk, shout and sing. (Koenig, 4/19)