MONDAY, Oct. 26, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Here's more proof that masking up reduces transmission of COVID-19: A new Massachusetts study found that wearing face coverings resulted in a decrease in coronavirus cases among health care workers as infections were increasing in the surrounding community.
"We found clear benefits to universal masking for preventing infectious spread within the work environment," researcher Dr. Stefanos Kales said. He's division chief of occupational and environmental medicine at the Cambridge Health Alliance (a Harvard-affiliated community health system) and a professor at Harvard Medical School.
For the study, the researchers compared the rate of COVID-19 cases between the Cambridge Health Alliance (CHA) and Massachusetts residents from March 17 to May 6. The CHA started requiring masks on March 26.
The universal masking was done during a time of rising infections in both the health care system and the community. After the policy was instituted, infections among health care workers sharply decreased, while community infections continued to rise until their peak on April 20. Before the mask mandate, infection rates increased almost identically in the health care system and the state's population, the study found.
The report was published Oct. 21 in Occupational Medicine.
"Our findings suggest that universal masking policy should be implemented and maintained in health care settings as well as within indoor businesses when physical distancing and ventilation may be inadequate," Kales added in a CHA news release.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on masks and COVID-19.
SOURCE: Cambridge Health Alliance, Oct. 21, 2020, news release