Recent mandates to wear masks in public places across the USA combined with conflicting messaging from the media and government agencies have generated a lot of patient questions surrounding the appropriate use and efficacy of cloth masks. Here, we have organized the evidence in the context of real patient questions and have provided example answers from a physician’s perspective. The purpose of this review is to offer healthcare providers with examples of how to respond to patient questions about masks in a way that encourages responsible decision-making. We conclude, based on the evidence showing a benefit for cloth masks and the recent reports supporting a role for aerosols in the transmission of SARS-CoV-2, that cloth masks will be effective when used correctly. We further assert that stronger public messaging surrounding cloth masks in the community setting is needed, and should specify that 2–3 layer, fitted face masks be worn at all times in public as another layer of protection in addition to social distancing, not just when social distancing cannot be maintained.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Internal Medicine