UCLA Health infectious disease experts tout critical role mask wearing plays in limiting spread of COVID-19

Masks reduce viral shedding from people who are infected and can keep others from getting sick.

We are in what scientists are calling a “third wave” of infections, as the number of coronavirus cases and hospitalizations surge once again in California and across the U.S.

UCLA Health recently joined 100 of the nation's top health care systems, representing thousands of hospitals in communications around the U.S., with an urgent plea for all Americans: Every Mask Up. (See video below.)

With thousands of new cases logged daily and a vaccine to fight COVID-19 still in development, UCLA Health infectious disease experts are encouraging people to continue to wear masks as the best method of protecting against virus transmission.

Annabelle De St. Maurice, MD, MPH, co-chief infection prevention officer for UCLA Health

“Overwhelmingly, Infectious Disease and Public Health experts recommend the use of masks in order to prevent the transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Data demonstrate that masks reduce viral shedding by infected individuals and prevent uninfected individuals from getting sick.

“Masks are one part of the solution to fighting COVID-19 along with physical distancing and washing your hands. A recent modeling study in Nature suggests that if a universal mask mandate were initiated in the United States, 130,000 lives could be saved by the end of February 2021.”

Judith Currier, MD, chief of the division of infectious diseases at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

“We all need to do our part to prevent the spread of SARS CoV2. The evidence is clear that people can shed the virus from the nose and mouth before they have symptoms. If you wear a mask, you can protect others.”

Raphael Landovitz, M.D., professor of medicine, division of infectious diseases at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

“My mask argument is to quote Tony Fauci’s 5 reasons to wear masks:

  1. Fact: Where masks are used, coronavirus infection rates decline.
  2. Fact: Masks keep viral particles closer to the wearer than to others.
  3. Fact: Talking alone can transmit the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Masks reduce such transmission
  4. Fact: Many people will not have symptoms of COVID-19, and never realize they have it –but can still transmit it to others. So even people who feel well should wear a mask in public.
  5. Fact: Testing for COVID-19 alone, without mask wearing, doesn’t reduce new infection rates.

“Believe the facts. Be protective of your family, your neighbors, your community. Wear a mask in public. Wash your hands frequently. Social distance. We can end this pandemic together.”

Otto Yang, MD, professor of medicine in the infectious diseases division at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

“SARS-CoV-2 is mostly spread through large respiratory droplets, which are blocked by masks. Since about 40% of people infected with the virus never have symptoms, and infected people are contagious about two days before symptoms, it's very important that masks are worn to prevent spread even if you have no symptoms, since it's possible you could have it.

“There is very strong scientific evidence that universal mask wearing greatly slows the spread of the virus by keeping infected people from spreading it. Among experts, there is no significant controversy about this concept. There is also growing evidence that there is some protection for the wearer, because the dose of virus is lowered even if they do get infected.”

Dr. James D. Cherry, MD, MSc, Distinguished Research Professor of Pediatrics, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

“For the prevention of the spread of COVID-19, social distancing is very important. The wearing of a plain cloth mask is also very important in regard to the transmission of COVID-19. The mask works in two ways. It protects the wearer from becoming infected and in an infected person it decreases the likelihood of the wearer to transmit COVID-19 to others. There is ample scientific evidence which demonstrates the benefits of wearing masks.”

Tara Vijayan, MD MPH, Medical Director, Antimicrobial Stewardship Program

“Masks are unequivocally important to mitigate the spread of infection and potentially even to reduce the ‘viral inoculum,’ or viral load. There is thought that the amount of virus one acquires correlates with disease severity. This is more likely to explain the significant health disparities we see, particularly among those who live in multigenerational homes.”

Click here to find more information on the importance of wearing a mask. For more information and resources on COVID-19 visit uclahealth.org/coronavirus.