Do masks really work? Ask the dozens of Starbucks customers who tested positive for COVID-19 in Seoul this month after a woman with coronavirus sat under one of the cafe’s air-conditioners.
According to a local news report, at least 56 coronavirus cases have been linked to that one customer. The kicker: The four masked workers avoided infection.
patrons, according to officials, weren’t consistently wearing masks because, of course, it’s hard to enjoy a latte when you can’t access your mouth.
“This speaks volumes about the role masks can play,” Ma Sang Hyuk, a pediatric infectious diseases physician in South Korea, explained to Bloomberg News. “Masks may not provide 100% protection, but there’s nothing out there that’s as effective.”
Local authorities made it mandatory this week for everybody to wear masks both indoors and outdoors, as the greater Seoul area has seen a surge in coronavirus cases.
Yet, the issue continues to be a divisive political topic in the U.S., where some people take issue with being told to wear masks, as if such rules are an infringement on their freedom.
Earlier this month, for instance, Robert O’Neill, the ex-Navy SEAL who says he killed Osama bin Laden, tweeted — and deleted — an image of himself not wearing a mask on a Delta Air Lines
flight. The carrier ended up banning him from future flights, as it has done to “well over 100 people” who have refused to wear masks while flying.
According to the New York Times, all the states that have been experiencing a decline in COVID-19 cases, such as hot spots like Florida and Arizona, have put some form of mask mandate in place and have also tapped the brakes on some of their reopening policies.
The global tally for confirmed coronavirus cases has risen to 23.7 million, as of Tuesday, with the death toll climbing to 813,544, according to Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. has by far the most cases at 5.7 million, and the most deaths at 177,279.