UW News

June 25, 2020

Soundbites: UW public health experts on benefits of face coverings

UW News


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Beginning June 26, face coverings will be required statewide, as ordered by Gov. Jay Inslee and Secretary of Health John Wiesman. This mandate follows on the heels of a mandatory mask proclamation for Yakima County earlier this week and a May 18 face covering directive for King County.

The order states that face coverings are required in all indoor spaces and outdoor areas where people can’t maintain 6 feet of distance from other people. More details, including several exemptions, are explained on the state’s coronavirus response website.

In this video, Hilary Godwin, dean of the UW School of Public Health and professor in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, offers some practical information about using masks to slow the spread of COVID-19.

UW School of Public Health professor Dr. Jared Baeten, also provided comments on why it’s important to wear a mask in public.

“Masks aren’t perfect — nothing is perfect — but I think about a mask the same way that I think about my seatbelt and setting down my phone when I’m driving: a small action that I can take that makes me safer, keeps others safer and gets me to where I want to be without something bad that I didn’t want to happen,” Baeten said.

The UW also has its own face covering policy.

Additional comments from Baeten: 

“I wear a mask because I care about the health of my family and community.

“Wearing a mask is a reminder, to me and to those around me, that I care about everyone’s health and that I’m doing my part to get us all past coronavirus.

“When public health folks talk about being all in this together, it is not about making things tough for everyone – it is about everyone chipping in, all together, and that’s how we stop this virus in our communities.”

New studies show that mask-wearing is one of the most effective things people can do to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. A recent analysis by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the UW found that wearing masks can reduce the risk of respiratory illnesses like COVID-19 by one third or more.

The new statewide mandate also reflects the knowledge that people can have COVID-19 and have no symptoms. Masks are primarily to help protect those around you in the event you have COVID-19 and don’t know it. By covering your nose and mouth, they limit the spread of droplets from coughs and sneezes.

For more information on wearing masks, visit the state of Washington’s coronavirus response site.


Public information officer Jake Ellison: jbe3@uw.edu or 206-543-1969
Video producer Kiyomi Taguchi: ktaguchi@uw.edu or 206-685-2716