September 1, 2020
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Public health officials are citing a hospital study on the efficacy of mask use among healthcare workers and patients in preventing COVID-19 transmission to support recommendations recommendations for universal masking in the community.
In the absence of aerosol-generating procedures, the public health consensus has been that large droplet particles emitted by a patient do not travel beyond six feet. However, studies have shown that smaller particles can travel farther distances, although there is some question whether they are infectious.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention dropped annual tuberculosis screening recommendations for healthcare workers last year, saying the disease continues to decline nationwide and healthcare workers appear to be at no greater risk than the general public. However, there are workers who could be exposed at work or in the community, including those from countries with endemic tuberculosis who can be offered new treatments for latent infection.
As desperate times require desperate measures, many hospitals have adopted reprocessing methods to reuse N95 respirators designed for single use. A recent study on some of these decontamination techniques revealed respirator efficacy may be compromised if they are reprocessed too often.