The future of wearing a face mask

Wearing a mask this winter may help prevent other respiratory illnesses, like the common cold and the flu
Published: Jun. 24, 2021 at 11:52 AM CDT|Updated: Jun. 24, 2021 at 6:04 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -With face masks no longer required in most places, the future of those tiny pieces of cloth remains up in the air. But one UW professor says mask-wearing might be a good idea this winter.

“Masks work,” said Ajay Sethi with the UW School of Medicine and Public Health. “They work for healthcare providers, and they work in all sorts of settings where you have that close contact.”

Cases of the flu and the common cold were both down considerably during the pandemic. Health officials say that is because many people stayed at home – and if they did go out, they wore a mask and kept their distance.

But flu season will be here before you know it and wearing a mask might be a useful tool when it comes to keeping viruses -- other than coronavirus -- in check.

“When the winter months arrive, we can prevent seeing respiratory bugs spreading during those months if people wear a mask,” he said.

Sethi thinks workplaces should consider making masks available to their employees this winter – just like they offer hand sanitizer and disinfectant.

“To add masks to that isn’t a stretch because there is already an interest in keeping respiratory germs from spreading in our community,” he said. “It’s something we can certainly do now it’s just a matter of workplaces having those masks available just like they have hand sanitizer available,”

Sethi believes even though there’s been some pushback to wearing masks during this pandemic, most people still would wear one because they did for COVID-19 and they understand that having a simple barrier over your nose and mouth can protect you from getting sick.

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