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Most doctors think we should keep wearing coronavirus masks for another year

  • A survey of 511 doctors reveals that a majority will continue to wear a mask for at least another year.
  • As U.S. cities begin to reopen, there’s a fear that a second coronavirus wave may hit later this year.
  • Many states are already seeing a spike in coronavirus cases, even as the virus subsides in former hotspot locations like New York City.

With the number of coronavirus cases trending downward in many areas, a number of states have started reopening over the past few days. And while not everything is entirely back to normal, many non-essential businesses, like barbershops and sit-down restaurants, are open for the first time in months.

Of course, not everything is back to the way it was. Although people are out en masse these days, especially now that the weather is getting warmer, the volume of people wearing masks is a harsh reminder that we’re still living in the midst of a pandemic. And though researchers are working hard on a vaccine, there’s no telling just how long we’ll have to wait until one becomes available. In turn, there’s no telling when we’ll be able to return to life the way it was before the coronavirus took hold.

In light of that, the New York Times recently surveyed 511 epidemiologists and asked them how long we’ll have to wait before we can stop wearing masks in public. Notably, 52% responded that we’ll have to keep wearing masks for at least another 12 months. 21% of those surveyed said we should keep wearing masks until next spring while 11% indicated we should keep wearing masks until next winter.

The overall survey is exhaustive and covers all sorts of topics, including how long those surveyed plan to wait before engaging in everyday activities like getting a haircut or attending a wedding.

For example, 42% of respondents said they would wait 3 to 12 months before going back to a gym. Meanwhile, 56% of respondents said they would wait 3 to 12 months before eating at a dine-in restaurant.

A list of risky activities that a majority of surveyed epidemiologists would not engage in for at least another year include the following:

  • Attending a wedding or funeral
  • Hug or shake hands when greeting a friend
  • Go out with someone you don’t know well
  • Attend a church or other religious service
  • Stop routinely wearing a face covering
  • Attend a sporting event, concert or play

Interestingly, though not surprisingly, the latter activity — attending a sporting event or concert — was the the one most epidemiologists could agree on, with 64% indicating they wouldn’t attend such an event for at least a year.

The answers above, the Times notes, “are not guidelines for the public, and incorporate respondents’ individual life circumstances, risk tolerance and expectations about when there will be widespread testing, contact tracing, treatment and vaccination for Covid-19.”

Still, at a time when there’s still a lot of misleading information about the coronavirus out there, it’s helpful to see what those who truly understand the science behind the virus are comfortable doing.

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