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Scientific Research

The CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings 

CDC continues to study the spread and effects of the novel coronavirus across the United States.  We now know from recent studies that a significant portion of individuals with coronavirus lack symptoms (“asymptomatic”) and that even those who eventually develop symptoms (“pre-symptomatic”) can transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms.  This means that the virus can spread between people interacting in close proximity—for example, speaking, coughing, or sneezing—even if those people are not exhibiting symptoms.  In light of this new evidence, CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.

It is critical to emphasize that maintaining 6-feet social distancing remains important to slowing the spread of the virus.  CDC is additionally advising the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others.  Cloth face coverings fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost can be used as an additional, voluntary public health measure.

The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators.  Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance.


See entire CDC announcement here.

Papers about effectiveness of basic masks #masks4all

Curated by Jeremy Howard and the fast.ai community. Summaries by Reshama Shaikh. The papers below have been used to create a video, and a newspaper article, summarizing the utility of basic masks. In summary: everyone should wear masks, which they should make themselves using t-shirts and/or paper towels, whenever they go out in public. I’ve also made a little summary on Twitter of the video, and a summary of the article.

Key Introductory Videos

Paper Summaries


See next section for “summary of publications”


  1. Professional and Home-Made Face Masks Reduce Exposure to Respiratory Infections among the General Population
  2. Coronavirus can travel twice as far as official ‘safe distance’, study says
  3. Testing the Efficacy of Homemade Masks: Would They Protect in an Influenza Pandemic? | Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness
  4. What is the efficacy of standard face masks compared to respirator masks in preventing COVID-type respiratory illnesses in primary care staff?
  5. Aerosol and Surface Stability of SARS-CoV-2 as Compared with SARS-CoV-1
  6. Addressing COVID-19 Face Mask Shortages: evaluating decontamination methods for N95 mask reuse.
  7. Rational use of face masks in the COVID-19 pandemic
  8. Influenza Virus Aerosols in Human Exhaled Breath: Particle Size, Culturability, and Effect of Surgical Masks
  9. Effectiveness of Masks and Respirators Against Respiratory Infections in Healthcare Workers: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
  10. Physical interventions to interrupt or reduce the spread of respiratory viruses
  11. Effectiveness of N95 respirators versus surgical masks against influenza: A systematic review and metaâ•'analysis
  12. Modeling the Effectiveness of Respiratory Protective Devices in Reducing Influenza Outbreak
  13. Simple Respiratory Mask
  14. What Hospitals Should Do to Prepare for an Influenza Pandemic
  15. Flight of the aerosol
  16. The bacterial and viral filtration performance of breathing system filters
  17. SARS-CoV-2 Viral Load in Upper Respiratory Specimens of Infected Patients 
  18. Do N95 Respirators Provide 95% Protection Level Against Airborne Viruses, and How Adequate Are Surgical Masks? 
  19. N95 Respirators and Surgical Masks
  20. Performance of N95 Respirators: Filtration Efficiency for Airborne Microbial and Inert Particles
  21. Performance of an N95 Filtering Facepiece Particulate Respirator and a Surgical Mask During Human Breathing: Two Pathways for Particle Penetration
  22. Reuse Mask? DIY Mask? | Consumer Council
  23. Editor's Choice: Transocular Entry of Seasonal Influenza–Attenuated Virus Aerosols and the Efficacy of N95 Respirators, Surgical Masks, and Eye Protection in Humans
  24. A quantitative assessment of the efficacy of surgical and N95 masks to filter influenza virus in patients with acute influenza infection.
  25. Sterilization of disposable face masks by means of dry and steam sterilization processes 
  26. A cluster randomised trial of cloth masks compared with medical masks in healthcare workers
  27. How effective are face masks in operation theatre?  A time frame analysis and recommendations
  28. N95 Respirators vs Medical Masks for Preventing Influenza Among Health Care Personnel
  29. The role of facemasks and hand hygiene in the prevention of influenza transmission in households: results from a cluster randomised trial; Berlin, Germany, 2009-2011
  30. Facemasks and hand hygiene to prevent influenza transmission in households: a cluster randomized trial.
  31. Mask use, hand hygiene, and seasonal influenza-like illness among young adults: a randomized intervention trial.
  32. Letter to editor: Role of masks/respirator protection against 2019-novel coronavirus (COVID-19)
  33. Association between 2019-nCoV transmission and N95 respirator use
  34. Mass masking in the COVID-19 epidemic: people need guidance
  35. Knowledge, attitudes, and practices towards COVID-19 among Chinese residents during the rapid rise period of the COVID-19 outbreak: a quick online cross-sectional survey
  36. Understanding of COVID‐19 based on current evidence
  37. Protection by Face Masks against Influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 Virus on Trans-Pacific Passenger Aircraft, 2009
  38. Facemasks, Hand Hygiene, and Influenza among Young Adults: A Randomized Intervention Trial