The fact that SARS-CoV-2 virus can or cannot spread through airborne transmission does not render masks "worthless"

 Newswise
27-Oct-2020 5:00 PM EDT, by Newswise

Fact Check By: Craig Jones, Newswise

Truthfulness: False

Claim:

CDC says [the SARS-CoV-2] virus was never airborne, rendering masks worthless

Claim Publisher and Date: Owen Shroyer, Banned.video on 2020-09-22

A video featuring Owen Shroyer originally published by Banned.video went viral on Facebook in late October. The video claims that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, was never airborne, and wearing face masks is unnecessary. This claim is false and inaccurate. The CDC never said the virus could not be airborne.  Although the CDC "updated" their guidance on its website to include aerosols among the most common forms of SARS-CoV-2 transmission, experts agree that the virus can spread through water droplets and masks can act as a physical barrier to stop these droplets from spreading from person to person. There is increasing evidence that suggest airborne transmission may also play a role in the spread of COVID-19.

As reported by Health Feedback...

The CDC and other health agencies recommend that the general public use cloth face masks to reduce the spread of COVID-19, because masks act as physical barriers that block the release of respiratory droplets and larger aerosol particles, thereby reducing the spread of infectious particles. Wearing face masks can also reduce the likelihood that people who are unaware they are infected will transmit the virus to others. Infected individuals who do not appear to be ill are responsible for about half of COVID-19 transmission, as Health Feedback explained in this review.

The claim that face masks are useless in the absence of aerosol transmission is based on flawed reasoning. The intended use of regular masks and cloth face coverings is to block respiratory droplets, which is the main route of SARS-CoV-2 transmission. In fact, cloth masks are less effective at blocking small aerosol particles, some of which may leak through the pores of the fabric[2]. Therefore, the possibility that SARS-CoV-2 spreads through airborne transmission does not affect the recommendation of wearing face masks, although it may change the type of mask recommended.

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