Maskomania: Masks and COVID-19



A recent startling discovery reported on in Emerging Infectious Diseases suggests that the basic COVID-19 reproductive number (R0) is actually much higher than previously thought. Using expanded data, updated epidemiologic parameters, and the current outbreak dynamics in Wuhan, the team came to the conclusion that the R0 for the novel coronavirus is actually 5.7 (95% CI 3.8-8.9), compared with an initial estimate of 2.2-2.7.31 Concern for transmissibility demands heightened prevention strategies until more data evolves. The latest recommendation by the CDC regarding cloth masking in the public may help slow the progression of the pandemic. However, it is of paramount importance to keep in mind that masks alone are not enough to control the disease and must be coupled with other nonpharmacologic interventions such as social distancing, quarantining/isolation, and diligent hand hygiene.

Dr. Tirupathi is the medical director of Keystone Infectious Diseases/HIV in Chambersburg, Pa., and currently chair of infection prevention at Wellspan Chambersburg and Waynesboro (Pa.) Hospitals. He also is the lead physician for antibiotic stewardship at these hospitals. Dr. Bharathidasan is a recent medical graduate from India with an interest in public health and community research; she plans to pursue residency training in the United States. Ms. Freshman is currently the regional director of infection prevention for WellSpan Health and has 35 years of experience in nursing. Dr. Palabindala is the medical director, utilization management and physician advisory services, at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson. He is an associate professor of medicine and academic hospitalist in the UMMC School of Medicine.


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