How much longer will I need to wear a mask?

It’s a question that you’ve probably typed into Google, at least more than once: how long will I need to wear my mask for?

It’s probably difficult to find an exact answer on how long you will need to wear your mask, but the answer that you might not exactly want to hear is the answer that’s most likely: a long time. In fact, most researchers and scientists expect that COVID-19 will eventually become endemic. 

How Long Will You Need to Wear a Mask?

In a Nature poll, 89% of all scientists believed that COVID-19 is either very likely or likely to become an endemic virus. What does endemic mean? It means that mask wearing will be here to stay for a while, because the virus in question will continue to circulate around the globe for years to come, if not longer than that.

It all depends on how the virus evolves, and the type of immunity that people receive from the virus. There are already many viruses that are endemic, including the influenza and four other human coronaviruses. However, due to a certain level of herd immunity that has been achieved, in addition to annual vaccines, these viruses have not required lockdowns and the wearing of masks in the past.

In fact, there are four main endemic coronaviruses out there: OC43, 229E, NL63 and HKU. These have been moving throughout the world for hundreds of years. Most people catch the viruses when they’re young, develop immunity, and are ready to face the world without wearing a mask. The infections are usually mild, and seem to prevent that person from getting sick in adulthood. It is currently uncertain if COVID-19 will behave the same way, which is why it’s thought that we will wear our masks for a long time.

Universal mask use has undergone many studies, and it was estimated in October 2020 that by the time February 2021 rolled around, 130,000 lives could be saved by wearing them. It’s estimated that wearing a mask will reduce risk of infection in an individual by about 40%, although the exact numbers are difficult to predict.

It is likely that over time - although it is difficult to say precisely how long - COVID-19 will evolve to become something more similar to the flu, instead of something so deadly. When this lessened status is achieved, and herd immunity is present across most populations, it will be safe to not wear a mask. However, some retailers, businesses, and people who feel uncomfortable will likely still ask that masks are worn.

In the United States, Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, says that they don’t know when mask wearing will not be required, and things can go back ‘to the way that they were.’ However, he says that it’s possible - and likely - that Americans will need to wear face masks until 2022. 

I want it to keep going down to a baseline that’s so low there is virtually no threat,” said Fauci. “If you combine getting most of the people in the country vaccinated with getting the level of virus in the community very, very low, then I believe you’re going to be able to say, you know, for the most part, we don’t necessarily have to wear masks.”

The hope is that the timeline will be that by Christmas of 2021, things will look vastly different than they did in 2020. He goes on to say it might not look exactly like it did in 2019 when the virus wasn’t a thought in anyone’s minds, but that normalcy will be on the brink. But until then, what kinds of masks should we be using to keep others safe, and allow us to communicate with others the best we can?

The Best Mask for Extended Use

If you are going to have to wear a mask as part of the new normal, it’s time to ditch the disposable masks you might be reaching for. Not only are they costing you extra money, they’re bad for the environment.

Regular masks also pose problems with everyday communication. Being unable to see the lower half of a person’s face makes it more difficult for them to express emotion and for emotions to be read. For the deaf community, this isn’t just an inconvenience - it’s threatening to quality of life.

The solution, then, is a reusable transparent face mask. A clear mask will allow anyone who has difficulty hearing to have accessibility to reading lips again, which is essential in allowing them to communicate. Not only that, masks that allow you to see smiles again bring back a sense of normalcy.

The Jelli mask is made with an anti-fogging surface treatment, so wearers won’t have their faces shrouded. It also is constructed from food grade polycarbonate unibody, so it’s safe and sturdy to wear. If you have to wear your mask for the long haul, make the decision that will allow you to communicate best with people around you, and choose a clear mask.