How Long Will We All Need to Wear Masks?

Woman wearing a mask
Photo by eugenegurkov / Shutterstock.com

Strapping on a face covering has become as normal as sliding into socks or combing your hair. But millions still resist wearing masks, and most of the rest of us hate having to do so.

Unfortunately, we may have to don such protection against the coronavirus for a while. In fact, possibly up to two years, according to some experts.

David Larsen, a Syracuse University public health associate professor, tells Syracuse.com:

“I would say a year and a half to two years, until we get a good vaccinated public against coronavirus.”

Dr. Kathryn Anderson, an assistant professor of microbiology and immunology at Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, New York, concurs. She tells Syracuse.com that masks will be necessary for somewhere between several months and two years — until something happens to change the virus threat level, such as:

  • Society developing widespread immunity
  • Widespread implementation of a successful vaccine, or the emergence of cure of sorts, such as an antiviral drug

“Either of those possibilities remains quite a distance off,” Anderson says. As a result, “it’s going to be a long time” before we can escape wearing masks, she adds.

Think that sounds awful? Steady yourself: The news is about to get worse.

“I think that mask wearing and some degree of social distancing, we will be living with — hopefully living with happily — for several years,” Dr. Eric Toner, a senior scientist at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, tells CNET.

Although Toner acknowledges that some people remain reluctant to wear masks, he tells CNET that he believes many of those folks will change their minds over time:

“They will get over it. It’s just a question of how many people get sick and die before they get over it.”

The masks that protect you — and those that don’t

A study backed by the World Health Organization found that wearing a mask over your nose and mouth can cut the chances of transmitting or being infected by the coronavirus by more than 80%.

However, when it comes to protecting yourself from the virus that causes the disease COVID-19, some face coverings are better than others. As we reported recently, some masks offer superior protection, while others hardly make you any safer.

For more, check out “The 3 Most Effective — and 2 Least Helpful — Face Masks.”

Washing your mask properly is also key to keeping the coronavirus at bay. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends washing your mask after every use. For more on how to do so correctly, read “Make Sure to Wash Your Mask This Way.”

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