Photo by Lukas Souza on Unsplash

Staff reports | With a federal ruling overturning a nationwide mandate for face masks on public transportation like planes, buses and trains, many are wondering if masking up will prevent COVID transmission if everyone else is maskless in a crowded, enclosed space. 

Public health experts took to Twitter to encourage people to continue masking, even without a mandate in place, in an attempt to reassure uneasy travelers they still have the power to protect themselves. But health guidance from earlier in the pandemic asserted one-way masking did more to protect the maskless than the masked. 

When properly fitted, quality filtration masks prevent about 95% of airborne particles (such as the virus that causes COVID-19) from passing through, according to a report by Yahoo News. But because such particles have to breach the mask material twice when everyone is masked up, universal masking actually doubles the filtration power. But a good mask still works. 

“One-way masking works, if you wear the right mask — KN95, KF94 or better,” Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said on Twitter. “For those at risk from COVID, or who want added safety even as those around them unmask, a high quality mask worn properly can afford a measurable degree of added protection.”

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the requirement was still necessary to protect public health, despite the judge’s ruling. In light of the statement, the U.S. Department of Justice is planning to appeal the ruling and reinstate the mandate.

Latest COVID-19 data

In South Carolina, the state Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) transitioned to weekly reporting of new COVID data last month, with Tuesday’s update being the most recent of reports including data taken from April 10-16.

State health officials on Tuesday reported 1,521 total new cases of COVID-19, with 996 confirmed, and seven total new deaths, six of which were confirmed. As of April 18, 90 COVID-19-positive individuals are hospitalized, and nine COVID-19-positive individuals are ventilated.

No positivity rate was reported by DHEC.

  • Percentage of S.C. residents age 12+ with at least one vaccine: 67.1%
  • Percentage of S.C. residents age 12+ who have completed vaccination: 58%
  • Percentage of S.C. residents age 5-11 with at least one vaccine: 20.2%
  • Percentage of S.C. residents age 5-11 who have completed vaccination: 16.4%

For more information, visit the S.C. SCDHEC COVID-19 dashboard.

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