Why We Are Likely to Be Wearing Masks for a Long Time

Gov. Tom Wolf says that until a vaccine is readily available, wearing a mask will be a way of life in Pennsylvania.
Robinson Rial 165

PHOTO BY MARTHA RIAL

Gov. Tom Wolf’s decision to mandate masks when in public came after a recent surge in COVID-19 cases in the Pittsburgh area. Wolf says that requirement is not likely to be lifted, even when the number of cases subsides. 

“Research tells us that masks, while not perfect, make a difference in the spread of COVID-19 and are a simple and effective way to help protect ourselves and others,” says Wolf. 

Allegheny Health Department Director Debra Bogen says many of the most recent cases of COVID-19 were traced to 40 different bars and restaurants where patrons were not wearing masks or observing social distancing.

“While cases increase in some areas, we cannot become complacent. My mask protects you, and your mask protects me. Wearing a mask shows that you care about others and that you are committed to protecting the lives of those around you,” says Pennsylvania Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine.

For targeted populations, such as healthcare works, first responders and the elderly, industry experts say a vaccine could be ready anytime between this fall and 18 months from now. But widespread, population-level vaccinations are not likely to begin before sometime in 2021, according to former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb. 

Wolf says that timetable will keep the mask mandate in place.

“I’m sort of thinking this is until we get a vaccine, but I don’t have any real formal goal there,” Wolf says. 

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