3 reasons to keep masking up

A woman and a toddler wearing masks outside.

Most of us have been wearing masks for months now. And it's only natural to long for the days when we didn't have to think about them.

But the need for masks isn't gone—even now that some people are being vaccinated. And there are good reasons to keep masking up. Here are three of them:

1. You can have the virus and not know it. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that a significant number of virus transmissions may come from people who don't have symptoms. So waiting until you feel sick to put on a mask isn't going to stop the spread of COVID-19.

2. It may protect you too. We've been encouraged to wear face masks to protect others. That's because masks help prevent droplets that may contain the virus from getting on others when we breathe, sneeze, cough or talk. But CDC says there's now evidence that wearing a face mask may help protect you from breathing in the virus too. How well it does so depends on what your mask is made of, how many layers it has and how well it fits. But it's good news nonetheless.

3. Masks could save a lot of lives. Researchers published a modeling study in the journal Nature Medicine. The study found that if everyone wore a mask, an additional 129,574 lives could be saved from Sept. 22, 2020, through the end of February 2021. That's a critical period to act—when cases are surging but before most people will be vaccinated.

Get the most out of your mask

Some types of masks work better to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Check out these tips on what to look for in a face mask.

Reviewed 2/8/2021

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