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How long will we have to wear face masks in public? The answer isn’t good

Published Jul 7th, 2020 2:57PM EDT
Face Masks
Image: Drazen Zigic/Shutterstock
  • Without a coronavirus vaccine, doctors believe that wearing a face mask in public will remain part of our everyday lives for years.
  • A majority of epidemiologists believe we’ll be wearing masks well into 2021.
  • When people wear masks at group gatherings, the risk of coronavirus transmission goes down drastically.

The fact that states are reopening in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic is encouraging yet deceptive. Sure, it’s nice that restaurants are reopening and that people can finally go outside and congregate in groups, but the reality is that the coronavirus — which has killed nearly 130,000 Americans over the past few months — remains an ongoing and serious concern. Especially in southern states like Florida and Texas, the number of new coronavirus cases is rising at a staggering rate.

Barring the development of an effective vaccine, coronavirus safety precautions will undoubtedly have to remain in place for the foreseeable future. This means that people will have to continue adhering to social distancing guidelines and avoid large gatherings whenever possible. It also means that masks — which are pesky but undeniably necessary — will have to remain part of our everyday uniform for quite some time.

To this end, Dr. Eric Toner of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security believes that masks may remain part of our lives for the next few years.

“I think that mask wearing and some degree of social distancing, we will be living with — hopefully living with happily — for several years,” Toner said in an interview with CNET.

Even if a vaccine is developed, Toner articulates that it’s going to take time to vaccinate the entire country. So while a vaccine may arrive in late 2020 or early 2021 — in a best-case scenario — mask-wearing will remain an imperative until the vaccine can be administered to the entire country. What’s more, there’s also a chance that the first coronavirus vaccine won’t even prevent an initial infection. Rather, some researchers believe that the first coronavirus vaccine many simply prevent some of the virus’ more severe symptoms from taking hold.

On a related note, a recent New York Times survey found that more than 50% of 519 epidemiologists believe that we’ll have to keep wearing masks for another year at an absolute minimum.

The cruel irony of it all is that most people will be forced to wear masks for the next few months precisely because a shockingly large number of people still refuse to wear masks when out in public. And somewhat bizarrely, the choice between wearing a mask and not wearing a mask has somehow morphed into a polarizing political issue when it should be nothing but a health issue. That said, the benefits of wearing a mask to prevent coronavirus transmission is overwhelmingly clear and not in dispute.

Meanwhile, Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro — who doesn’t always wear a mask in public —  tested positive for the coronavirus earlier today.

Yoni Heisler Contributing Writer

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large with over 15 years of experience. A life long expert Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW.

When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.

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