When will be able to stop wearing face masks?
Many experts, including Dr. Kathryn Anderson from Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, New York, believe that we will need to wear masks for another 1-2 years. She talks about it here in more detail. She, like other public health officials, explains there is no exact end in the near term to wearing masks. The only way communities can safely take off their masks is when we have significant herd immunity, either by infection or vaccine.
We know from all the models that this will take at least 18 months even with a robust vaccine. Consequently, mask wearing is here to stay. You might be wondering as we head into winter, will people be asked to wear masks indoors the majority of the time. Experts in the UK argue yes, in order to curb the transmission of the virus, wearing masks whenever we share a space with those outside of our family will be necessary.
Mask wearing will become like wearing a seatbelt, it will be automatic. We hope by the Spring of 2021 that the data on the virus numbers will give a better direction on what to expect. For now, invest in a few comfortable cloth masks and plan to keep them.
(Prerana Sangani, MD, September 23, 2020)
Swarthmore College (undergrad)
University of Rochester (med school)
UC Berkeley (MPH)
California Pacific Medical Center (residency)