Corona-virus is stealing world headlines and we become overwhelmed with stories of the spread of the disease, and pictures and video of people wearing Surgical masks.

But do those surgical masks actually do anything?

The answer is about what I expected it to be. It's just a matter of taking a moment to think about why those masks were invented, and what they actually do.

Surgeons wear them to keep their own germs from spreading to the patient through unintentional droplets of saliva spraying from our mouths, to air born germs floating away from us on our breath. They do not protect the doctor from what the patient might have.

According to the CDC, surgical masks do not filter germs heading to the person wearing them. They are to prevent germs from getting to the person wearing the mask to everyone else.

The U.S. Surgeon General has even urged people to stop wasting their money on face masks.

Washing Your Hands Is Best Defense Against Coronavirus, Not A Facemask Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The video, above, used a great analogy to illustrate the point: If you were about to be sprayed by a garden hose you would not cover your mouth and nose with a tiny mask. You're sill going to get soaked if you use that strategy. Rather, you would use the mask to cover the end of the hose to prevent the water from splashing across the yard.

So go ahead and get a mask if you are sick, in order to protect those around you. Or get one for the person you know is sick. But it will not protect you if you are wearing it and the sick person is not.

--- Glenn Woods