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The science around the use of masks by the general public to impede COVID-19 transmission is advancing rapidly. Policymakers need guidance on how masks should be used by the general population to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Here, we synthesize the relevant literature to inform multiple areas:
1) transmission characteristics of COVID-19,
2) filtering characteristics and efficacy of masks,
3) estimated population impacts of widespread community mask use, and
4) sociological considerations for policies concerning mask-wearing.
A primary route of transmission of COVID-19 is likely via small respiratory droplets and is known to be transmissible from presymptomatic and asymptomatic individuals. Reducing disease spread requires two things: first, limit contacts of infected individuals via physical distancing and contact tracing with appropriate quarantine, and second, reduce the transmission probability per contact by wearing masks in public, among other measures.