It would be tragic if the wrong logics and mechanics and biology, which has led Western governments to not encourage, if not stigmatize the wearing of masks, may have contributed to the steep rise of COVID-19. Given that the upper respiratory tract is the major site for SARS-Cov-2 entry into human tissues, wearing simple face masks which exert a barrier function that blocks those big projectile droplets that land in the nose or throat may substantially reduce the production rate R, to an extent that may be comparable to social distancing and washing hands. This would then double the effect of mitigation in “flattening the curve”!
Looking forward: if we are soon loosening the lockdown due to the political pressure to sustain the economy, perhaps encouraging face masks to be worn in the public would be a good compromise between total lockdown and total freedom that risks resurgence of the invisible enemy. There is now a robust scientific basis for putting an end to the officials’ anti-surgical mask hysteria and to recommend or even mandate a broad use of masks as in Asian countries that have bent the curve.