Governor Gavin Newsom finally did it.
Following in the footsteps of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Hawaii, and other states, per Newsom’s directive, California is now instituting a mandatory public mask-wearing order.
Mask-wearing (or face-covering-wearing, if you prefer) has become a contentious political issue as the U.S. faces this pandemic. But whereas the efficacy of masks in avoiding Covid-19 was debatable and widely dismissed in the pandemic’s early weeks, by now the science on the effectiveness of mask-wearing has grown reassuringly strong.
I’m no Newsom fan, mind you. His signing of AB5 alone—an absurd law that essentially makes California freelancers employees until proven otherwise—has had me bent out of shape for months. But he’s led with clarity, efficiency, and openness amidst this crisis, and on the mask front, he is absolutely going to help save many thousands of lives.
So here are 4 reasons why all Californians should follow the new mask order…
When the pandemic started, Japan’s healthcare system was on the brink of collapse. In the meantime, the country instituted no mass stay at home orders. Yet miraculously—or maybe not so much—Japan’s case count is at press time hovering around 20,000, in stark contrast with the U.S.’s 2.26 million. How did they do it? As it turned out, Japan’s low spread hasn’t been so miraculous after all. The country simply has a mask-wearing culture, namely attributable to its many residents with allergies, which expanded its mask usage as COVID-19 beared down.
2. The National Institutes of Health Laser Light Scattering Experiment
According to a study that used laser light modeling to track the behavior of human breath, masked mouths were found to be far less aggressive transmitters of disease than unmasked ones. You can watch a good video displaying the study’s process here.
3. Masks interrupt saliva’s jet-like propulsion
When we speak and/or breathe without masks, our spit takes on the trajectory of a turbulent jet, broadly distributing its contents around the general area. But according to one study, if you wear a mask, the jet travels a lot less far from “the airport” (i.e., your mouth or nasal cavity), to the tune of only 1.5 meters per masked person—as opposed to 5 full meters for those with uncovered faces.
4. In some cases, masks’ effectiveness when it comes to blocking the disease is up at 100%
This figure refers to unfitted surgical masks, which another study showed were actually foolproof when it came to guarding against the coronavirus in the form of respiratory droplets.
Three forms of study. One noteworthy country. And that’s just a tiny sampling of the mounting data.
Experts repeat that at the absolute best, a COVID-19 vaccine will become available sometime next year—and even for that to happen, many variables will have to line up with historic efficiency. In the meantime, in terms of keeping our health and economy here in California functional without subjecting our species to undue danger, masks will serve as an invaluable tool.