Do masks even work?

Sarah Norcross, Staff Writer

Everyone all over the world deals with masks every day; masks are effective and help reduce COVID-19 cases.

 According to Dr. Cope Norcross, an otolaryngologist (ear, nose and throat doctor), “Masks stop you from breathing out respiratory particles of the virus so you don’t spread them to other people.“ Norcross said, “It’s not about protecting you, it’s about protecting others around you.” “Yes, as a physician I think masks are effective in preventing the spread of COVID-19.” He also said that it isn’t that big of a sacrifice to wear a mask while out in public to protect other people and yourself.

Masks have been used for stopping the spread of pandemics and epidemics in the past, too. In the book, The Great Influenza, author John M. Barry writes about the Spanish Flu pandemic in 1918 at a military camp. Barry said, “[Masks] would soon be seen everywhere and would become a symbol of the epidemic.” 

William Henry Welch, who was on the National Research Council in 1918, called the mask, “a great thing… an important contribution in prevention of spray infections.” Through further study they discovered that it was one of the best ways to prevent catching the Spanish Flu and pneumonia. They recommended that it be used in all other military camps.

Masks have been able to prevent many COVID-19 cases over the past year. Harriet Norcross, a senior at Brigham Young University, said, “In our apartment we have had a lot of COVID-19 exposures, but we have all been wearing our masks and no one has ever gotten COVID-19 in our apartment so I think that is a big proof for me that masks really work and really help keep you safe.” She also sees the little ways masks are useful. “There are lots of pros to masks like people can’t tell if you are making a weird face and they keep your face warm in the winter.”

A teacher at Centennial said, “It helps to reduce the spread of COVID-19. They are important and necessary.” When asked about how many students were good about wearing masks, they said, “It’s about 50/50. A percentage of students are doing it well and some need constant reminders. I wish people would realize the importance of wearing masks,” they said they wish people would wear them more to get back to normal lives.

Eighth grader Owen Putnam said, “I think they work fine, everyone is making such a big deal about how annoying they are but they aren’t really that annoying.”  

These days if you are out in public there is a large variety of masks. Not only are there many different possible designs, but there are also masks of many different materials and styles. Not all masks work the same. To be most effective, masks should fit pretty well and be made of a material that won’t let particles through. The CDC does not recommend wearing masks with exhalation valves or vents because it could let some of the particles through. They also don’t recommend wearing a face shield as a substitution for a mask. 

The CDC acknowledges that it might not be possible to wear a mask in all situations. If there is a situation where you are participating in high intensity activities and it is difficult to breathe with a mask on, the CDC recommends keeping at least six feet distance and being in an area with better air circulation like outdoors.

According to experts and public opinion, masks protect you and those around you. There are proven results that prove the helpful qualities of masks.