SAN ANTONIO — The statewide mask mandate has expired, meaning Texans are no longer required to wear a face covering in public unless the businesses they're entering require it.
However, experts say wearing a mask has always been about keeping you and others as safe as possible during the coronavirus pandemic. Even if you get fully vaccinated, you can still carry the virus and not get sick, and easily transmit it to other with possible life-threatening consequences.
"We've seen that when people have been exposed to somebody else with the COVID-19 infection, if they've been wearing a mask often times they are protected from getting the infection themselves," said Jason Bowling, hospital epidemiologist for University Health, as well as associate professor of infectious diseases with UT Health San Antonio.
He says the science of wearing masks just makes sense.
"They protect not only against the large respiratory droplets that can be transmitted by anybody with COVID-19 infection, but they also protect against the very tiny droplets that can carry themselves further distances," Bowling said.
The Centers for Disease Control observed infection and death rates from March through December at the state level, comparing states that did and didn't have mask mandates and business capacity limits. They found that mask mandates was associated with a decrease in daily COVID-19 case and growth rates within 20 days of implementation. Additionally, the study found that allowing on-premises restaurant dining was associated with an increase in daily COVID-19 case growth rates 41 to 100 days after implementation, and an increase in daily death growth rates 61 to 100 days after implementation.
Overall, the CDC concluded that mask mandates and restricting any on-site dining can help limit community transmission of COVID-19, while also reducing case and death growth rates. These findings can inform public policies to reduce community spread of COVID-19.
How you wear a mask is just as important as wearing one at all. Make sure it covers both your nose and mouth, it fits snugly and comfortable against the sides of the face, the mask is secured with ties or ear loops, it allows for unrestricted breathing, and has multiple layers of fabric.
"Oftentimes you see people wearing the mask underneath the nose and that's a no-no because the droplets, the respiratory droplets, can be spread from where the nose is not covered," Bowling said. "But also you are exposed."
Lets us know if you will still be wearing a mask in public by tweeting KENS 5 with the hashtag, #WhyIWillStillWearAMask.
For more information about family health call (210)358-3045. You can also find the rest of our Wear The Gown stories by clicking here.