Face masks have been the topic of discussion amid the coronavirus pandemic and a lingering question remains: Will face masks protect an individual from contracting the virus and developing COVID-19? According to the World Health Organization, the answer is no. But that doesn't mean they still can't protect individuals in some fashion.
Evidence studied by the organization shows that the masks may help limit the spread of the virus and virus particles, but were insufficient at offering complete protection on their own. Meaning, there is no evidence proving that wearing a mask aided in a healthy person not contracting the virus. However, it can help an infected person from giving it to someone else, rather than protecting a healthy person who's covered with a mask from contracting a virus.
While it may take a while before one person knows if they're infected or not, social distancing and handwashing has been encouraged because those steps will help slow the spread since the novel coronavirus spreads through droplets and surfaces. Professor David Heymann of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said that masks can provide a false sense of hope for people since not everything is covered that needs to be, including eyes. "People think they are protected when they are not," she said according to The Guardian. "Healthcare workers, in addition to the masks, wear visors too, to protect the eyes."
Recently, the Surgeon General, Jerome Adams, said, "If you're going to wear a face covering, please save the N95 masks for healthcare workers who need them. If you're going to wear a face covering, please try not to touch your face. Please be very, very careful about making sure you don't touch your face." Something else that's been flying off the shelves at stores and online retailers are gloves. Gloves are another item that people are using in hopes of protecting themselves, but they're only as good as a person not touching their face.
"The glove itself is only as good as not touching your face with the glove," Robert Almer, M.D., the Vice President for Government Affairs at New York Medical College and former CDC Chief Medical Officer said according to Good Housekeeping. "So you know you can touch things with your hands, ... and as long as you've washed your hands or use hand sanitizer afterwards, you've accomplished the same thing."
Another specialist chimed in to add that if you touch things in public wearing gloves but then scratch your nose or touch your face in any form or fashion, it defeats the purpose of wearing gloves all together.