On April 3, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended that Americans — healthy or otherwise — wear cloth or fabric face coverings when they go into public spaces to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 during the coronavirus pandemic.
The announcement reversed the CDC's original guidance on face masks. Before April 3, the CDC recommended masks only for people who showed symptoms of COVID-19 or took care of someone who did, according to Live Science. That guidance was based on the best available evidence, which suggested that healthy people could not contract the coronavirus without exposure to someone who had. But recent studies, according to the CDC, have shown that asymptomatic people can spread the virus. In a March 31 interview with NPR, CDC director Robert Redfield said that as many as 1 in 4 people who have COVID-19 are asymptomatic.
Asymptomatic transmission has helped the novel coronavirus spread throughout the country, according to Redfield, putting hundreds of thousands of lives at stake. Preventive measures — such as face masks, hand hygiene, and social distancing — matter now more than ever.
Here are some tips to help you protect yourself, the people around you, and your workplace from the dangers of asymptomatic spread.