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CDC study says wearing masks puts Californians at lower risk of COVID infection

Shoppers at Fashion Valley Mall on Nov. 28, 2020.
Alexander Nguyen
Shoppers at Fashion Valley Mall on Nov. 28, 2020.

A new study from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that was done in California has confirmed what we know about wearing masks inside public places: It helps contain the spread of COVID-19.

The study looked at randomly selected people throughout California who had received a test result for COVID-19. Some tested positive and some negative. The bottom line? Always using a face mask or respirator in an indoor public setting gave you lower odds of a positive test result, compared with never wearing protection in those settings.

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Dr. Francesa Torianni is an infectious disease specialist at UC San Diego. She said the study was a real-world assessment of the risk to people inside public places.

“If you are going into an environment where you don’t know what the ventilation is, and what the concentration of people infected is, people who may not be wearing a mask, this is a demonstration of additional protection that I can take to protect myself," Torianni said.

She points out the conditions during the CDC study were different from today.

"It's a nice study. But it's clear as they say that this is all pre-omicron.
And so we can imagine the protection of masking and N95s would be even higher with omicron," Torianni said.

CDC study says wearing masks puts Californians at lower risk of COVID infection

Updates about mask protection from the CDC tell us loosely woven cloth masks provide the least protection. Layered, finely woven products are better. Well-fitting respirators such as the N95 mask offer the highest protection.


RELATED: How to use the free N95 masks and rapid tests now available in San Diego

People yearn for a time when we will no longer have to wear masks. Torianni said with high-risk areas like airplanes, mass transit and healthcare settings, the requirements will certainly continue for what may be a long while.

"But in our everyday lives, hopefully when we reach better vaccination coverage, and if our numbers go down, then at that point we will at least relax some of those requirements," she said.

The CDC study examined 1,828 Californians. Among them, 652 tested positive and 1,176 tested negative.