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According to an interview with a pandemic expert in CNET, Americans need to get used to wearing facemasks. Eric Toner, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security and a world leader in pandemic preparednes, told CNET, “The US response has been extraordinarily disappointing and wrongheaded. Whenever there’s been an opportunity to do the right thing, we seem to have done the wrong thing. The US has to recognize that it is competing for first or second position of the worst affected country in the world.”

While Toner said that there has been some progress over the first six months of the pandemic (hospitals getting better at managing symptoms, therapies like remdesivir, which has shown positive effects in trials and has been authorized for hospitalized COVID patients) we still don’t have a vaccine, and until we do, life probably won’t go back to normal.

And until that happens, “I think that mask-wearing and some degree of social distancing, we will be living with — hopefully living with happily — for several years,” he says. “If we cover our faces, and both you and anyone you’re interacting with are wearing a mask, the risk of transmission goes way down. Being outside, having distance between you and other people reduces the risk of transmission dramatically.”

“There are a lot of things you can do and maintain those conditions. If you spread out, if you maintain distance, if you avoid crowded places, you could go to a beach, you go to the mountains, you could go to a lake, you can do things outside without a problem.”

He also referenced people who don’t want to wear masks. “They will get over it, it’s just a question of how many people get sick and die before they get over it.”

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