Working Together, We Beat COVID 19
Masks Offer Much More Protection Against Coronavirus Than Many Think
Published in the Los Angeles Times July 14, 2020
There’s a common refrain that masks don’t protect you; they protect other people from your own germs, which is especially important to keep unknowingly infected people from spreading the coronavirus.
But now, there’s mounting evidence that masks also protect you.
If you’re unlucky enough to encounter an infectious person, wearing any kind of face covering will reduce the amount of virus that your body will take in.
As it turns out, that’s pretty important. Breathing in a small amount of virus may lead to no disease or far more mild infection. But inhaling a huge volume of virus particles can result in serious disease or death.
That’s the argument Dr. Monica Gandhi, UC San Francisco professor of medicine and medical director of the HIV Clinic at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, is making about why — if you do become infected with the virus — masking can still protect you from more severe disease.
“There is this theory that facial masking reduces the [amount of virus you get exposed to] and disease severity,” said Gandhi, who is also director for the Center for AIDS Research at UC San Francisco.
The idea of requiring mask-wearing in public has become an increasingly pressing and politicized issue as California and the rest of the nation see a surge in new cases as the economy reopens.
But experts say masks are essential for people to wear when they go out in public, such as to shop or go to medical appointments, and when close to other people at the beach or park.