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Masks can work—even if you’re the only one wearing them

Popular Science: “Mask mandates have almost entirely vanished across the United States, after a Florida judge voided a federal requirement to cover faces while in transit. Major airlines and Amtrak swiftly discarded their mask rules. States, meanwhile, had been shedding their mask regulations all spring. Now, no state has a public mask rule. Guam, the final US territory to require masking indoors in public, may lift that requirement in early May. Although cases have declined substantially, COVID transmission remains high in some areas of the country. Cases rose so sharply in Philadelphia that the city recently reinstituted an indoor mask requirement. Many epidemiologists have criticized the removal of mask precautions as premature, even if they agree that masking can be relaxed in the future. You may be asking a now-familiar question: What’s your personal responsibility in the face of a societal problem? This is a story that has played out with booster shots, COVID testing, and relaxed isolation policies. The answers aren’t always satisfying: You can’t end the pandemic on your own, but you can make yourself safer…

No one around me is wearing a mask. Will wearing one protect me? Short answer, yes…That doesn’t mean all masks provide equal protection. The California study found that those who wore an N95 in all public indoor settings were 83 percent less likely to test positive—a massive improvement over cloth masks. Surgical masks sat in the middle…”

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