One health expert is predicting that masks will remain a facet of American life for years to come.
Eric Toner, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, also believes that the only cure for the resurgence of the coronavirus noted in several states is to shut everything down.
“When you’re underwater, it’s really hard to tell how many waves are passing over you,” Toner told CNET.
“I don’t know whether it’s a first wave or a second wave. I don’t think it makes any difference. There is a resurgence of cases that, in some states, looks like just a continuation of their outbreaks. In other states, it’ll look more like a second wave.
“I think what’s important is that there’s going to be no summertime lull with a big wave in the fall. It’s clear that we are having a significant resurgence of cases in the summer, and they’ll get bigger. And it’ll keep going until we lock things down again,” he said.
Toner dismissed the concept of a quick return to life as it was before the virus hit.
“I think that mask wearing and some degree of social distancing, we will be living with — hopefully living with happily — for several years,” he said.
As with any communicable disease, making the spread of the virus harder can blunt its impact, according to Toner.
“It’s actually pretty straightforward. If we cover our faces, and both you and anyone you’re interacting with are wearing a mask, the risk of transmission goes way down. Being outside, having distance between you and other people reduces the risk of transmission dramatically,” he said.
But what about those who don’t like wearing a mask?
“They will get over it,” Toner said. “It’s just a question of how many people get sick and die before they get over it.”
Toner said his conclusion on masks is based on pandemic simulations that he conducted in 2019.
The argument for masks was also made by Dr. Simone Wildes of South Shore Health in Massachusetts.
“It is a simple, inexpensive measure that can have a significant impact in reducing the spread of the virus,” the infectious disease physician told ABC News. “We have to remember if we don’t take these measures there will be more cases and more deaths.”
“I can understand the frustration some individuals are experiencing about the need to wear the mask at all times,” Wildes said.
“But in the midst of a pandemic with more than 2.5 million cases in the U.S. and more than 127,000 deaths with no cure or vaccine yet, we have to take all measures we can to slow the spread of the virus.”
Toner said being outside and being apart from other people are vital ways to avoid infection.
“There are a lot of things you can do and maintain those conditions. If you spread out, if you maintain distance, if you avoid crowded places, you could go to a beach, you go to the mountains, you could go to a lake, you can do things outside without a problem,” he said.
Toner is also a fierce critic of America’s response to the virus.
“The U.S. response has been extraordinarily disappointing and wrongheaded,” he told CNET last month.
“Whenever there’s been an opportunity to do the right thing, we seem to have done the wrong thing. The U.S. has to recognize that it is competing for first or second position of the worst affected country in the world,” Toner said.
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