Masks could be the new norm for at least the next year

As several cities and towns across the Commonwealth mandate people wear facemasks while outdoors and in public, public health experts are warning those masks could become part of life for at least months, if not more than a year to come.

“This lockdown can’t continue forever, I think that’s very clear. And we really need to be making the most of this time to do everything we can to prevent subsequential infections from happening, and masks are a huge part of that,” said Shan Soe-Lin, managing director of Pharos Global Health.

Soe-Lin, a public health expert who specializes in epidemiology, said that coronavirus will be around long after the state and country reopen for business.

“This is going to rebound twice, maybe a third time also. That’s not really what people want to hear, but certainly a second wave is going to come this fall. A third wave can come in the spring,” Soe-Lin said.

>>>MORE: Barber shops, hair salons working on plan to ensure customer safety when they re-open

That means until a vaccine is created or herd immunity is reached, the public could be required to wear masks until at least next year.

“That end point is 18 months out probably. Yeah, I think masks are here to stay if we’re going to be responsible for each other and be a responsible society. So it might mean that you wear masks pretty much all the time,” Soe-Lin said.

At least a dozen Massachusetts cities and towns are requiring people wear facemasks both outdoors and in public places. Starting next Wednesday Somerville will fine anyone over the age of two up to $300 for not wearing a mask.

“This is about keeping people safe by stopping the spread or slowing the spread of the epidemic and saving lives,” Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone said.

It’s also important that children wear masks.

>>>MORE: Gov. Baker extends stay-at-home advisory through May 18

“I don’t think there’s been enough guidance to parents. You really need to be masking your children. Any child over two has to be wearing a mask because they are a huge risk of being a-symptomatic carriers as well,” Soe-Lin said.

Soe-Lin says in order to truly be effective a state-wide mask mandate needs to be made.

“We’re one state and it’s weird that I can cross into Brookline and have to put my mask on and then go one town over and I don’t have to. This doesn’t really make any sense. Having this really patchwork set of rules is making it hard to follow,” she said.

Comments on this article