While the CDC initially told Americans that face masks could prevent a person infected with COVID-19 from spreading the virus to others, they have now updated their guidance, saying that a mask also protects the person wearing it as well.
"The report indicates that, based on their review of evidence, cloth masks not only block viral particles exhaled by the person wearing the mask, but also provides a filtration by blocking incoming infectious droplets from other people," Dr. Shoshana Ungerleider told CBSN on Thursday.
COVID-19 is predominantly transmitted through respiratory droplets people release when they cough, breath or sing, among other things. The virus can also remain airborne for some time.
The CDC report has estimated that more than half of transmissions originate from people who aren't showing any symptoms and may not even know they have COVID-19. Studies have also shown the effectiveness of wearing a mask. A study in Beijing of 124 households found that wearing masks cut the virus transmission rate by 79%.
The Infectious Diseases Society of America asked the all U.S. "governors who have not yet enacted mask mandates to do so.”
As of Friday, the U.S had 10.6 million COVID-19 cases.
"Adopting universal masking policies can help avert future lockdowns, especially if combined with other non-pharmaceutical interventions such as social distancing, hand hygiene, and adequate ventilation," the CDC said.
The CDC also noted that after an economic analysis they found that a 15% increase in universal masking could prevent financial losses of up to $1 trillion.