By Vince Gerasole

CHICAGO (CBS) — A couple of questions during the coronavirus outbreak:

Should you be wearing a mask? Could it save your life?

There are reports from the CDC that soon you may need one.

CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole has the story.

The recommendation has long been that healthy people don’t need the masks to protect them from the coronavirus. The masks could force you to touch your face and eyes more.

But new information suggests more infected people could be walking round without symptoms, and a mask cold stop them from spreading it.

The faces of Chicagoans tell the story. In a public health crisis, some choose to wear a mask, some not. And up to now, guidance from the Centers For Disease Control and the Cook County Department of Public Health has been clear: Masks really only help the ill.

“If you are an individual who is asymptomatic, you don’t suspect you are ill with any respiratory illness or coronavirus, you don’t need to wear a mask,” said Rachel Rubin of the Cook County Health Department.

But published reports citing CDC sources indicate that might be changing.

Data collected from an exposed cruise ship, for example, suggests some passengers may have been sick, spreading the virus but showing no symptoms at all. Chicago’s top doc, Doctor Allison Arwady is paying close attention.

“We’re recognizing there is more asymptomatic infection than has been realized,” Arwady said.

The masks are designed to keep someone infected with the coronavirus from spreading droplets in the air that could expose others, but not block a healthy person from exposure.

“When you sneeze or cough, it will stop those droplets from getting out because they are being trapped by the mask,” Rubin said.

Doctor Rachel Rubin is a Cook County health officer and said there is no questions the  masks are required for health professionals who come in much closer contact with the ill.

“I have my mask right here that I will be putting on when I leave my office,” Rubin said.

Practicing social distancing, hand washing and staying at home is crucial to fighting COVID-19 spread. There is concern masks can give the wearer a false sense of security.

“I don’t want people to be mislead that simply because you wear a mask, then you’re fine, and not practicing any of the other guidance that goes along with that,” said Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

Dr. Arwady said stay tuned for changes in the policy. Take aways for now: keep social distancing and washing hands, stay home and don’t let a mask have you letting your guard down.

 

Vince Gerasole