FACT CHECK: Did The CDC Report That Masks Don’t Work?

Elias Atienza | Senior Reporter

A viral Facebook post shared over 500 times claims the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that face masks do not work.

Verdict: False

The CDC recommends people wear face coverings in public. It has not reported that masks do not work.

Fact Check: 

The CDC on March 5 released a new study which showed “strong evidence” that mask mandates can help slow the spread of COVID-19,  The Associated Press reported. The study built on previous studies conducted by the CDC, according to the outlet.

Since then, some social media users have shared a Facebook post alleging that the CDC reported wearing masks doesn’t work to reduce the COVID-19 infection rate. (RELATED: Did The CDC Release Data Showing Face Masks Are ‘Collecting’ COVID-19?)

There is, however, no record of the CDC reporting that face coverings are ineffective. Had the agency actually stated the masks didn’t work, it would have made headlines, yet searches on DuckDuckGo and Google turned up no credible media reports.

The CDC, since April 2020, has consistently recommended people wear face coverings in public settings, social distance and avoid large gatherings to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. The agency’s website currently includes multiple pages giving guidance on which masks to choose and how to wear them. The website also has a section for “Evidence for Effectiveness of Masks.”

Jasmine Reed, a CDC public affairs specialist, told Check Your Fact in an email that “widespread use of masks is a very effective way to reduce the spread of COVID-19.”

She further added, “The CDC study referenced noted that mask mandates were associated with statistically significant decreases in county-level daily COVID-19 case and death growth rates. Following the institution of mask mandates, rates of new infections and deaths that had been rising reversed and started declining. Immediately after these mandates were instituted, these declines were statistically significant.”

This particular study focused on mask mandates, not the effectiveness of masks, Reed noted.

The claim may stem from a March 7 Gateway Pundit article bearing the headline, “CDC Claims Mask Mandates Don’t Have a Statistically Different Impact on COVID Than No Masks At All.”

Elias Atienza

Senior Reporter
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