As health experts urge the public to wear masks to slow the spread of the coronavirus, they continue to get pushback. Among the arguments of skeptics: If masks can’t fully protect me against COVID-19, what is the point of wearing them?

Scientists’ counterargument is that masks can help reduce the severity of the disease caused by coronavirus even if you get infected.

There’s now mounting evidence that silent spreaders are responsible for the majority of transmission of the coronavirus — making universal masking essential to slow the spread of the highly contagious virus, experts say.

This makes the coronavirus different from the seasonal flu. With seasonal flu, peak infectiousness occurs about one day after the onset of symptoms. But with the coronavirus, even among people who do end up becoming visibly sick, peak infectiousness can occur before they show symptoms.

In fact, experts say, significant amounts of virus can start coming out of people’s noses and mouths even when they feel well.

This is a key reason, they say, why tactics to deal with the coronavirus must be markedly different than with the seasonal flu. And the universal wearing of masks is key.

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