Wearing a mask could help shorten road to recovery, reopening

For the past month, the CDC has recommended wearing face masks in public, and recently, more people have complied. It may help slow the infection rate enough to help us reopen life a little faster.

In homes and small businesses across Minnesota, sewing machines are threading the needle between safety and necessity.

Thousands of masks are in the hands of firefighters, and more people are actually wearing them whether through caution or social pressure.

“It’s not protection for you, but protection for the folks around you,” explained Kris Ehresmann, Director of Infectious Disease Epidemiology for MDH.

New research shows you may have the virus and not know it. Therefore, you could be infecting those around you. The CDC reported that hundreds of COVID-19 patients in Singapore were contagious 1-3 days before they felt sick. Meanwhile, a new study in the journal “Nature Medicine” suggests 44% of all COVID-19 cases are spread by people who were pre-symptomatic.

So, by putting on a facemask, you’re making sure that the germs that you have aren’t shared with the people around you - and if they’re wearing a facemask, that benefits you.

A nationwide Gallup poll shows more people are accepting the practice, showing 62% saying they had worn a mask in the past seven days.

It’s now a key strategy in reducing the infection rate, and as Governor Walz noted Monday, it may be a factor in opening the economy.

“In my executive order, I did not mandate wearing a mask, but what I can tell you, if you do these things, it will speed up the opening of these small businesses. It will speed the chance that we can reduce the numbers and start moving in a more aggressive way to start catching up with those businesses,” Walz said.

Ehresmann called it the “belt and suspenders” strategy. The belt is the social distancing. The suspenders are the masks that add extra protection when the social distancing falls short.