Excerpted from University of California San Francisco by Nina Bai

As states reopen from stay-at-home orders, many, including California, are now requiring people to wear face coverings in most public spaces to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization now recommend cloth masks for the general public, but earlier in the pandemic, both organizations recommended just the opposite. These shifting guidelines may have sowed confusion among the public about the utility of masks.

But health experts say the evidence is clear that masks can help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and that the more people wearing masks, the better.

We talked to UC San Francisco epidemiologist George Rutherford, MD, and infectious disease specialist Peter Chin-Hong, MD, about the CDC’s reversal on mask-wearing, the current science on how masks work, and what to consider when choosing a mask.
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