Doctors on the mask debate: Recent studies prove effectiveness of masks for COVID-19

NOW: Doctors on the mask debate: Recent studies prove effectiveness of masks for COVID-19


MILWAUKEE, Wis. (CBS 58) - The debate on whether or not masks are effective and should be worn continues. CBS 58 took to the streets of Milwaukee to ask people their opinions, and got feedback from health experts.

A majority of the people our crews spoke with in Milwaukee’s Third Ward say when in close proximity masks should be worn, but some say in certain situations it is fine not to wear one.

“Everybody should at least own one and wear it where you think is best,” said Ceara Milligan.

“If there’s like more than 10 people, then you should definitely wear a mask,” said A.J. McKinley.

“There’s so many opinions out there whether like you have a filter or not a filter, how many particles can get through things like that, so I guess to each their own, but I don’t think it’s a bad thing,” said Kristen Bryant.

Today, differing opinions ring throughout Milwaukee, some stores now require them while others don’t. Still, doctors want people to remember we’re still in a pandemic.

“You may hear different opinions and receive different pieces of advice,” said Dr. Ben Weston, Medical Director for Milwaukee County’s Office of Emergency Management. “The simple fact is that COVID-19 is still with us.”

“Multiple studies that have been published over the last week have confirmed the effectiveness of face coverings and social distancing,” says Dr. John Raymond, President and CEO of the Medical College of Wisconsin.

Those studies Dr. Raymond is referring to show face masks reduced COVID-19 risk from 17 percent to 3 percent. Another study done by the US Navy Bureau and the CDC on the USS Theodore Roosevelt conclude masks are effective even in tight quarters, reducing infection from 81 percent to 56 percent.

Doctors say being out in open air also helps.

“Being outdoors in open air also adds a substantial added element of protection,” adds Dr. Weston.

“We’re outside, so there’s fresh air coming through, I think that we’re fine without them,” said Adrian.

“Out here I think it’s fine, like if you’re far away from people, but once you go inside I feel like it should be necessary,” said Anna Fry.

A recent survey of 1,000 Wisconsin residents show 62-percent would wear a mask in public. Health experts say make sure your nose and mouth are covered if you do wear one, and continue to practice social distancing.

“It has to cover your nose, or else what’s the point of wearing it?” said Milwaukee’s Health Commissioner, Jeanette Kowalik.

“Face coverings and social distancing, these remain our two best tools for combating the pandemic,” adds Dr. Raymond.

Doctors say Wisconsin is doing better than other states when it comes to COVID-19 trends, but say case numbers will likely increase in the future like we’re now seeing in other parts of the country.

To read the study, click here.

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