As COVID cases continue to increase in many large population centres, the CDC recommends masks for people living in New York and Los Angeles when indoors or on public transport. This recommendation is based on three main factors - new COVID cases, hospital capacity and hospital admissions.
This recommendation comes as both cities had more than 3200 daily cases late last week, and hospital beds are at over 80% capacity. To halt the increase in cases and hospital capacity, the CDC hopes that some masking can help.
Other cities, such as Philadelphia, have seen other recommendations and mandates introduced. Philadelphia now requires that students and staff wear masks indoors for the coming two weeks to slow transmission. If cases continue to rise, it’s likely this requirement will be extended.
Although Philadelphia is currently alone in reintroducing masks to schools, New York has also encouraged students to wear masks indoors (including at schools), and in Boston, a parent advocacy group is requesting the school district to impose a temporary mask mandate.
Unfortunately, widespread masking is unlikely as many people are no longer willing to wear masks due to the inconvenience and discomfort they cause. This, combined with a perceived lack of danger presented by recent COVID strains, has led to a small minority of people masking.
However, masks remain as effective as ever against the new strains of COVID and are one of our best tools to stem the spread of the virus. The good news is that even if only a smaller group masks, it can still be effective, as many studies have pointed out.