|Since COVID-19 "started" I've been confused about the efficacy of masks. I have read so many contradicting statements about the efficacy of masks (who they protect, who should wear them, type of mask etc.), that I am just totally confused. I'm hoping to ease my confusion and find concrete-ish answers!
Now, don't worry, I am not someone who is refusing to wear masks. I've acquired cloth masks for myself. I wear masks when stores require me to wear them, but if it's not required I tend not to wear one. My workplace is about to re-open to the public in a VERY LIMITED way and everyone is fighting about masks. Should we get customers to wear them, if we do should they be mandatory, who the mask protects (the wearer or the other person), the proper way to wear a mask, etc. It's gotten pretty intense.
What's confused me about masks (and frankly, has upset me in a way that is probably completely irrational) is the 180 from public health officials. I'm Canadian and we had Dr. Theresa Tam telling us that we didn't need to wear masks in March, reasons included the general concensus that people were too stupid to wear masks properly (constant adjusting, touching the mask, etc.) and that masks protect the people AROUND the mask wearer, but not the wearer. So if you're not displaying symptoms, you wouldn't need a mask.
I understand that public health officials told the public this in-part due to shortages of medical masks for healthcare providers (according to Dr. Fauci). And since late May, masks have been highly recommended by Dr. Tam. I guess with the 180 and all the confusion about WHO is protected... I actually feel pretty confused about masks and actually quite angry AT health officials. Again, I understand it was to secure enough masks for healthcare workers, but I'm sure more people would be open to wearing masks now if they hadn't been told they weren't effective in March!!!
So, my question is: What IS the actual efficacy of masks with regards to COVID-19? WHO are they protecting? The mask wearer? The people around the mask wearer? Both at some level? I would appreciate any good scientific sources, but I know that research about COVID-19 is changing constantly!! I really just want to feel less confused about masks, personally.