Walz encourages Minnesotans to wear masks outside of home; experts weigh in on cloth masks | KSTP.com

Walz encourages Minnesotans to wear masks outside of home; experts weigh in on cloth masks

Eric Chaloux
Updated: April 30, 2020 06:31 PM
Created: April 30, 2020 03:26 PM

Gov. Tim Walz discussed during an afternoon news conference Thursday about encouraging Minnesotans to continue to wear a mask outside the home.

"Like so much of what we're doing, the simple gesture of wearing that mask in public goes a long way," Walz said.

More and more stores in Minnesota are suggesting or requiring customers to wear masks when coming to shop as well.

Minnesota Grocers Association recommends shoppers wear masks when at stores

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS has been hearing from more viewers asking us to look into how effective homemade cloth masks are in preventing the transmission of COVID-19.

"If everybody is wearing them (masks) that can create a lot of protection for the community," said Elie F. Berbari, M.D. from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester.

Dr. Berbari, the chair of infectious diseases at Mayo Clinic, backs the CDC recommendation calling for using cloth face coverings to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

He suggests making sure senior citizens are wearing masks when in public.

"Homemade masks are fairly effective,” Dr. Berbari said. "Not all masks are created equal but most masks are much better than no mask."

"There's not a lot of data about the performance of cloth masks, not a lot of good data, I should say,” said retired University of Minnesota professor Lisa Brosseau, an expert in personal protective equipment in health care. “But the few studies that have been done show that cloth masks have very, very low filter efficiency."

Brosseau said when you breathe through a cloth mask some air escapes which shows it doesn’t fully capture all the small aerosol particles that could spread the virus.

"I'm glad with us recommending them but I'm concerned when we start to require them because it again gives an impression that we think that they'll do some good and I know that's not the case," Brosseau said.

Full KSTP COVID-19 coverage

Brosseau said she’s concerned that people wearing cloth masks in public will fail to follow social distancing guidelines and feel as though they're totally protected from coronavirus.

Earlier this month, the University of Minnesota's Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy posted about a paper that included their director Michael Osterholm, PhD, MPH that said more testing on the effectiveness of cloth masks needs to be done.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Prevention and Control continues to suggest using cloth face coverings to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in settings where social distancing can’t be achieved specifically in areas of community-based transmission.

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