Mid-South physician explains importance of wearing masks in public

Why we wear masks

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - As we gradually head towards looser social restrictions, people are being asked to wear masks when they are out and about. But how do they help to protect against the virus?

It seems to be the question on everyone's minds.

E.R. Physician, Dr. Lee Berkenstock said the answer is simple, "Tightly woven cotton masks work."

He explained it like this:

If a person without the virus wears a mask, but socializes with someone with the virus who is NOT wearing a mask, the chances of spreading it is at 70%

If the person without the virus does NOT wear a mask, but a person with the virus does wear a mask, the chances of spreading it go down to 5% of less.

If they both wear a mask the chances of spreading it is 1 in 1,000.

Shelby County Health Department responds to debate over mask requirement

Dr. Berkenstock says unless a person is two or younger or has trouble breathing, then they should wear a mask every time they leave the house.

But what about when exercising?

"You've got to find some happy medium when you're in a situation like that. You've got to understand where you're likely to spread," he said.

The virus is still new, and experts are still studying how far small droplets of the virus, called aerosols, can travel when someone breathes, coughs or sneezes. They’re advising people to wear masks based on what seems to be working.

“It’s quite clear that if you knock it down when it first comes out, it doesn’t travel anywhere near as far and it saves lives," said Dr. Berkenstock.

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