KEY POINTS

  • A new study indicates that coronavirus infections could fall 80% if most of society wore masks 
  • Mask-wearing at about 50% is not the way to effectively flatten the curve 
  • Research indicates that replacing a strict lockdown with social distancing will result in additional cases 

A new study suggests that future cases of COVID-19 could plummet by as much as 80%, should most individuals wore masks. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended in the past that individuals wear face coverings to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus by way of droplets and air particles that can be transmitted from one person to another.

Now, new research compiled by a group of experts from around the world shows that new cases could be cut down considerably if most of the population wore masks, in terms of "universal masking." 

"Universal masking at 80 [%] adoption flattens the curve significantly more than maintaining a strict lockdown," wrote the researchers. Their findings are based on a model known as the masks simulator, and it finds that masking as well as continued lockdown is an effective course of action for slowing the spread of the virus. 

coronavirus N95 masks, scientists reveal heating is the best way to disinfect the mask for reuse coronavirus N95 masks, scientists reveal heating is the best way to disinfect the mask for reuse Photo: enriquelopezgarre - Pixabay

"Masking at only 50 [%] adoption is not sufficient to prevent continued spread," the report continued. "Replacing the strict lockdown with social distancing on May 31 without masking results in unchecked spread."

In addition, one study author, researcher De Kai from University of California, Berkely, indicated that these findings were "urgent," having seen the country go through a horrifying time without "knowing much about something as simple as wearing a mask to protect themselves and others." 

There have been several cases throughout the U.S., however, where individuals asked to wear masks while shopping or entering public areas have reacted violently. In some cases, those reactions have resulted in the death of individuals trying to keep order. 

As masks appear to be the only thing actually helping to curb the spread thus far, coronavirus cases continue to rise. Currently, there are over 4.4 million coronavirus cases diagnosed across the globe. The U.S. has recorded 1.4 million cases, making the country the most affected in the entire world. With states beginning to allow stores and nonessential businesses to open up once more, it looks like that number will likely continue to rise. It could be a very long road back to normal.