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Will Iowans keep wearing masks even when they’re not mandated?

DES MOINES — While many Iowans are relieved most of the “Masks Required” signs have come down, there are some who will continue keeping their faces covered well after the COVID-19 pandemic fades away.

Epidemiologist Ajay Sethi says the U-S may be on the verge of joining other countries where mask use by those who are sick is much more commonplace. ┬áSethi says, “There are already people today who are more likely to wear a mask simply because they had the experience of the previous year of witnessing what the benefits can be.”

In addition to helping prevent the spread of coronavirus, Sethi says masks work just as well with other respiratory illnesses like the flu or the common cold. “Maybe folding mask use into ordinary cough etiquette that we already had before COVID,” Sethi says. “To cough into your elbow, to wash your hands frequently, to keep your distance from others if you have symptoms.”

Sethi says the extremely low rate of influenza cases during the pandemic can be credited to social distancing and the use of masks. “Mask use consistently every year will prevent the spread of things like influenza,” he says, “and I think that’s not a bad thing to do particularly since influenza is a virus that is very dangerous for people, particularly the elderly.”

While not everyone will be wearing masks all the time, Sethi says you can expect masks to become part of a basic routine for the sick.

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