The Pandemic Action Network, WHO, Africa CDC, CDC and CDC Foundation, Facebook, Google, Global Citizen and 40+ partner organizations just announced the launch of World Mask Week from August 7 to 14, an effort to increase the use of face coverings in public across the globe. These organizations join many others, including hotel companies and hotel industry associations, that have committed to face mask wearing to wipe out COVID-19 as much as possible.
Given the alarming exponential increase of infection rates across the globe, sustained community masking in public is critical to stop the spread of COVID-19, even as situations vary around the world. And until we have vaccines or medicines to fight COVID-19, face coverings are one of the best tools we have—particularly where social distancing is not practical.
The initiative encourages people and organizations around the world to rally behind the importance of wearing a mask to stop the spread of COVID-19 during World Mask Week and every week until there is a vaccine available. People can show their support by sharing a statement, picture, or video on social media, tagged with #WorldMaskWeek. Be sure to share your statements, photos, and videos with me as well. I will post them in next week’s column.
Everyone Must Play a Role
“Slowing the spread of COVID-19 requires everyone to play a role to keep themselves and their communities safe and healthy. Health experts have made it clear that wearing a mask is a key and simple preventive measure,” said KX Jin, Head of Health, Facebook. “We’re proud to partner on World Mask Week with leading health organizations as part of our commitment to connecting people to the expert guidance of those working on the frontlines.”
“Google is committed to helping share one simple message: Wear a Mask,” said Dr. Karen DeSalvo, Chief Health Officer, Google. “From our homepage doodle, to providing information on Google Search and Maps, we are connecting people to helpful, authoritative resources that explain how wearing a mask can help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and save lives.”
The CDC Foundation is another Pandemic Action Network partner marking World Mask Week. “We’re committed to supporting the response to the public health threat posed by this virus, and wearing a face covering consistently and correctly is one of the most important things we can do as individuals to fight COVID-19,” said Dr. Judy Monroe, President and CEO of the CDC Foundation. “The CDC Foundation is helping organize and support a number of campaigns, including campaigns with CDC and the Ad Council, focused on the importance of face coverings to crush COVID-19.”
Face Coverings: An Important Barrier
Face coverings block the spray of droplets from sneezing, coughing, talking, singing or shouting when worn over the mouth and nose. They serve as barriers that help prevent droplets from traveling into the air. Since people may have COVID-19, but not know it or have symptoms, consistent mask wearing can reduce the spread of the virus. Mathematical modeling shows that masks worn by 80 to 90 percent of the population coupled with social distancing could eventually eliminate the disease.
“Inconsistent policies on masking have caused confusion and there is mounting evidence that failing to wear masks is contributing to the spread of COVID-19,” said Eloise Todd, Co-Founder of the Pandemic Action Network. “Leaders should make clear and consistent policies around the importance of wearing a mask outside the home when in public. If nearly everyone wears a mask, practices handwashing and social distancing we can end the pandemic more quickly, prevent suffering and save lives.”
Global Citizen is supporting World Mask Week by encouraging Global Citizens to wear a mask. “We are proud to support World Mask Week as our supporters take action in every corner of the globe to push their leaders to adopt clear rules on wearing a mask in public,” said Michael Sheldrick, Chief Policy and Government Affairs Officer, Global Citizen. “We also need global leaders to govern by example. When we all wear masks, citizens become more focused on listening to the guidance of the medical community, and together we are better suited to help save lives.”
Let Us Sustain This Momentum
The Pandemic Action Network was launched in April 2020 to drive collective action to help bring an end to COVID-19 and to ensure the world is prepared for the next pandemic. Since launch, the Network has been working with influencers to promote mask wearing—along with social distancing and handwashing—to help stop the spread of COVID-19. World Mask Week provides the opportunity to continue to sustain this momentum, uniting disparate parties around a single message.
Let us all continue to ratchet up our efforts around mask wearing. This past week a friend lost his father to COVID-19 and another friend lost his mother. Our family cannot have a normal conversation with our aunt because the virus has impacted her memory.
For more information, visit worldmaskweek.com.*
*Thank you to the folks behind World Mask Week for their contributions to this column.
Correction to Last Week’s Column
In last week’s column I stated, “If you see any sanitizer marketed as FDA approved, do not buy it. There are no hand sanitizers approved by FDA.” What I meant to say is: “There are currently no drugs, including hand sanitizer, approved by FDA to prevent or treat COVID-19.” I apologize for the error.
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