Can masks save us from more lockdowns? Here’s what the science says

By Nurith Aizenman, NPR

The American conversation around masks and COVID-19 has taken a dizzying turn. For months, wearing masks has been politicized as a sign of liberal leanings. But in recent days, ever more governors — many of them Republican — have moved to mandate masks. This week President Trump — arguably the nation’s most visible mask un-enthusiast — started referring to wearing them as “patriotic.”

Now prominent scientists are proposing a radical — and hopeful — possibility: Even as coronavirus cases spiral upward across the United States to levels surpassing this spring’s surge, these experts argue that if Americans start wearing masks en masse, the U.S. may yet avoid a return to lockdown measures.

“Look, we’ve never tried to use masks as our primary strategy when outbreaks are this bad,” says Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute. “But I do believe that if we want to avoid a complete lockdown, we’ve got to at least give it a shot.”



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