With the amount of recorded cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, on the incline, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that facemasks are not effective in preventing the virus.
According to the CDC, symptoms of the coronavirus disease include coughing, shortness of breath, and fever. One of the most common methods of prevention that health-savvy people have chosen is to stock up on medical facemasks.
In fact, as of this past Wednesday, Amazon had nearly sold out of these masks. Keepa, an Amazon price-tracker, has shown that a 10-pack of 3M N95 respirator masks that used to sell for $18.20 a month ago now costs a whopping $99.99, according to CBS News. Another online seller has the same respirators for sale, going at $185.00 for a 30-pack. Most of the cheaper items are out of stock.
The largest manufacturer of facemasks in the U.S., Prestige Ameritech, told CBS that they were having immense trouble keeping up with all of the orders. Company Vice President Mike Bowen said that since the coronavirus outbreak began, daily orders have ranged from 1 to 100 million masks and respirators.
“It’s a madhouse,” said Bowen. “We are going as fast as we can.”
As Americans and people all over the world stock up on these face masks, the CDC has issued a warning on their website:
“CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19. Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).”
A statement, along with an educational video, was also posted on the CDC’s Twitter account.
CDC does not currently recommend the use of facemasks to help prevent novel #coronavirus. Take everyday preventive actions, like staying home when you are sick and washing hands with soap and water, to help slow the spread of respiratory illness. #COVID19 https://t.co/uArGZTJhXj pic.twitter.com/yzWTSgt2IV
— CDC (@CDCgov) February 27, 2020
The World Health Organization (WHO) backs up the CDC’s claims of the ineffectiveness of mask usage if one is healthy.
“If you are healthy, you only need to wear a mask if you are taking care of a person with suspected 2019-nCoV infection,” WHO said in their “Advice for the Public” section of their site. Again, the use of facemasks is confirmed to only truly be helpful for healthcare workers.