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Face Masks Escort Florida to Phase 3 Reopening

In countries where facemasks are widely used by the public—not just from when clear symptoms first appear—the curve is flattened below the critical reproductive rate of one. A reproductive rate of two means one infected person in turn infects two other people—thus raising the curve.

When people breathe or speak, spray droplets containing the virus are emitted from the mouth. These droplets can infect people by being inhaled while the spray is floating in the air or can be deposited on surfaces as "fomites" and cause infection later if touched.

Because contact tracing and medical testing have not reached sustainable levels, the modeling-study authors explored face-mask use as a pandemic intervention. The results shed light on why some countries, where public facemask compliance is high, “have experienced significantly lower rates of COVID-19 spread and associated deaths,” explained the study, which was published in The Proceedings of the Royal Society and led by Dr. Richard Stutt with university colleagues in The United Kingdom.

A mask ordinance that achieves just 60 to 75 percent of a population masking up is sufficient to take down the SARS-CoV-2 virus, as seen in Florida at the beginning of September [see graph]. Even using an honor system, local, state, and/or national mask mandates can flatten the curve, while allowing law enforcement to stay out of policing public health policy, and for anti-maskers to stay out of hearings and courts.

“Even if facemask use began after the start of the first lock-down period, our results show that benefits could still accrue by reducing the risk of the occurrence of further COVID-19 waves,” the study explained.

The U.S. Supreme Court recognized in 1905 that "a community has the right to protect itself against an epidemic of disease, which threatens the safety of its members." Today, the 1905 decision, Jacobson v. Massachusetts, sits alongside motorcycle-helmet and safety-belt laws that also do not violate the right to liberty under the 14th Amendment, according to UCLA Distinguished Professor of Law Eugene Volokh for

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidance, which is marginalized in parts of country, including some branches of the U.S. government, COVID-19 spreads by people who do not have symptoms and do not know that they are infected. Those who are unable or unwilling to wear masks are provided adaptions and alternatives by the CDC.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an order allowing restaurants and bars to reopen from 50 percent capacity to 100 percent capacity on September 25th. The order lifted all statewide coronavirus-related restrictions on businesses. So far, Florida has avoided rebound, as defined by “having multi-day increases in percent positivity with stable or increasing testing volume.” A decrease in testing rate does not indicate a decrease in infection rate.

Rosalie Marion Bliss, MA, is former science writer and communications specialist for USDA’s chief scientific research agency. Bliss writes about research-based news and editorials during the pandemic.

GRAPHIC OF WOMAN IN FACEMASK CAPTION: “The mask helps prevent a person who is sick from spreading the virus to others. It helps keep respiratory droplets contained and from reaching other people.”


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