A health expert from Harvard made his case Tuesday that everyone in the U.S. should wear N95 face masks in order to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Joseph G. Allen, the director of the Healthy Buildings program at the university, penned an op-ed in the Washington Post and said there’s “no reason any essential worker—and really, everyone in the country – should go without masks that filter 95%.”
His pitch came a day after Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top disease expert in the U.S., said in an interview that wearing two cloth masks “likely” offers more protection for the wearer.
“So if you have a physical covering with one layer, you put another layer on, it just makes common sense that it likely would be more effective. That’s the reason why you see people either double masking or doing a version of an N95.”
President Biden said Tuesday that masks are “the best defense against COVID-19” in the coming months as his administration acquires a sufficient supply of vaccine to innoculate the majority of Americans.
“The brutal truth is, it’s going to take months before we can the majority of Americans vaccinated – months,” Biden said. “In the next few months, masks, not vaccines, are the best defense against COVID-19. Experts say that wearing masks from now just until April would save 50,000 lives that otherwise would pass away if we don’t wear these masks.”
Fauci’s comment was criticized on social media. Some asked why the country wasn’t told to wear double masks earlier on in the outbreak, and others asked– with that logic– wouldn’t three masks be more effective than two?
Scientists continue to learn more about the disease can be transmitted. The Wall Street Journal reported that one year into the pandemic, we know that mask-wearing and good airflow inside buildings are more effective in preventing transmission than surface cleaning.
Allen wrote that if two people wore N95s it would result in a “greater than 99% reduction in exposure.”
“Think about that for a minute. We could reduce exposure by 99 percent for what should be $1 a mask. (Prices are higher now because of the failure to produce an adequate supply.) Throw in better ventilation and some distance between people, and you have hospital-grade protections,” he wrote.
Fox News’ Thomas Barrabi contributed to this report