Face masks with vents, valves don't prevent spread of coronavirus — CDC

Marco Green
August 14, 2020

The changes reflect guidelines that the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated last week to say that vented masks do "not prevent the person wearing the mask from transmitting COVID-19 to others". SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2) is the highly-contagious virus that causes COVID-19.

American Airlines is the latest major carrier to ban face masks with one-way valves or vents, following similar mandates from airlines including United, Delta and JetBlue.

American Airlines have been observing this policy since May and will continue to do so, especially in this time of the pandemic.

Calling the wearing of a mask a "responsibility", the airline said that only "effective" coverings should be worn. "Since American began requiring face coverings in early May, the vast majority of customers have welcomed our continuing efforts to strengthen the policy based on the CDC's guidance". "These recent guidelines from the CDC are helpful in helping people choose masks".

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA - JULY 16: An American Airlines plane lands on a runway near a parked JetBlue plane at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on July 16, 2020 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. These face coverings have the added bonus of being cooler and more comfortable to wear than form-fitting 3M masks, with or without valves. Back in May, the San Francisco Department of Public Health took to its Twitter account to advise people against the use of N95 masks with valve openings in the front. Allowed masks are made up of materials that prevent the discharge of respiratory droplets from spreading to and from an individual.

AA notes that they will be strict in this new policy and deny the boarding of passengers who will not follow.

Only children under the age of 2 are exempt from American's face covering policy. Customers without an approved face covering will be provided with an approved one, upon request, at the airport.

Passengers on these major airlines are still allowed to briefly remove their masks for eating or drinking.

It's not the first time these masks have been called into question.

On Wednesday, the the Washington Post reported that several USA airlines have outright banned the use of valved masks. Loose or unsecured fits would lose the mask's effectivity in providing protection. These fashionable accessories are pulled over a person's head to cover the lower half of his face, including his nose and mouth.

Instead, the CDC recommends people wear simple masks, which can be made from cloth, to slow the spread of COVID-19. Scientists say to that end, any cotton face covering will work - though it's best if it has at least three layers of cotton fabric.

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