PFF Insights

COVID-19: Wearing a Mask Saves Lives

by Dr. Gregory Cosgrove, Chief Medical Officer, PFF
July 11, 2020

By Dr. Gregory Cosgrove, Chief Medical Officer, PFF

In the past month, we’ve seen a lot of optimism about the development of several SARS-CoV-2 vaccines and treatments. A path to end the pandemic is becoming more clear and collaborative research is moving at an exponential pace.  Unfortunately, with the reopening of several states, this optimism was counter balanced by the catastrophic increase of more than 60,000 new cases each day in the United States.

A key factor for this explosive increase has been a failure to follow simple recommendations for the use of face coverings or masks over one’s mouth AND nose, in addition to physical distancing, to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.  The benefits of this dual strategy are significant. Based on models from Italy and New York City, a reduction in the number of infections--78,000 in Italy and 66,000 in New York City--were attributed to the mandatory use of face coverings combined with physical distancing.1

The downstream impact is obvious -- fewer people that become infected with SARS-CoV-2 means fewer people will die of COVID-19. Reducing the burden of COVID-19 on our healthcare system ensures we have the capacity to care for other critically-ill patients, and prevent deaths from other causes as well. There is no argument sufficient to justify not following these simple recommendations… intolerance for having to follow inconvenient “rules”, political views,  or sheer lack of interest pale in comparison to the loss of life and crippling of our local, regional and national societies. In fact, we all have a significant responsibility to each other during the pandemic.

As we move forward and dream of returning to “normalcy” or a new “normal,” all of us have a responsibility to actively change the course of the pandemic which is overwhelming our society.

We can change the course of the pandemic, but only by working together.  The PF community is an example to the rest of our country, as the patients, caregivers, healthcare providers, and researchers that comprise it, are generally altruistic and envision a world without pulmonary fibrosis as a result of their direct participation in changing the future for the better. This example, if modeled by the rest of those in the United States, would change the course of the COVID-19 pandemic immediately.

Keep wearing a face covering, keep social distancing, and keep helping one another stay healthy and safe.  

1.       Zhang R, Li Y, Zhang AL, Wang Y, Molina MJ. Identifying airborne transmission as the dominant route for the spread of COVID-19. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2020;117(26):14857-14863.