August 6, 2020

World Mask Week aims to inspire global movement to wear face coverings in public to help stem exponential spread of COVID-19

World Mask Week (August 7-14) launched to encourage more people to do their part by wearing a mask in public

August 6, 2020, Seattle, WA—The Pandemic Action Network, WHO, Africa CDC, CDC and CDC Foundation, ECDC, Facebook, Google, Global Citizen and 40+ partner organizations announced today the launch of World Mask Week from August 7-14, an effort to increase the use of face coverings in public across the globe.

Given the alarming exponential increase of infection rates across the globe, sustained community masking in public is critical to stop the spread of COVID-19, even as situations vary around the world. And until we have vaccines or medicines to fight COVID-19, face coverings are one of the best tools we have – particularly where social distancing is not practical.

“COVID-19 is a respiratory disease caused by the transfer of droplets. As the pandemic continues to gain momentum in Africa, we must increase compliance to the public health and social measures so we can protect ourselves and protect our economy. We must increase mass wearing of masks as we expand testing and treatment services,” said Dr. John Nkengasong, Director of Africa CDC.

The initiative encourages people and organizations around the world to rally behind the importance of wearing a mask to stop the spread of COVID-19 during World Mask Week and every week until there is a vaccine available. People can show their support by sharing a statement, picture or video on social media, tagged with #WorldMaskWeek.

“Slowing the spread of COVID-19 requires everyone to play a role to keep themselves and their communities safe and healthy. Health experts have made it clear that wearing a mask is a key and simple preventive measure,” said KX Jin, Head of Health, Facebook. “We’re proud to partner on World Mask Week with leading health organizations as part of our commitment to connecting people to the expert guidance of those working on the frontlines.”

“Google is committed to helping share one simple message: Wear a Mask,” said Dr. Karen DeSalvo, Chief Health Officer, Google. “From our homepage doodle, to providing information on Google Search and Maps, we are connecting people to helpful, authoritative resources that explain how wearing a mask can help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and save lives.”

The CDC Foundation is another Pandemic Action Network partner marking World Mask Week. “We’re committed to supporting the response to the public health threat posed by this virus, and wearing a face covering consistently and correctly is one of the most important things we can do as individuals to fight COVID-19,” said Dr. Judy Monroe, President and CEO of the CDC Foundation. “The CDC Foundation is helping organize and support a number of campaigns, including campaigns with CDC and the Ad Council, focused on the importance of face coverings to crush COVID-19.”

Face coverings block the spray of droplets from sneezing, coughing, talking, singing or shouting when worn over the mouth and nose. They serve as barriers that help prevent droplets from traveling into the air.1,2,3 Since people may have COVID-19, but not know it or have symptoms, consistent mask wearing can reduce the spread of the virus.4,5 Mathematical modeling shows that masks worn by 80-90 percent of the population coupled with social distancing could eventually eliminate the disease.6

“Inconsistent policies on masking have caused confusion and there is mounting evidence that failing to wear masks is contributing to the spread of COVID-19,” said Eloise Todd, Co-Founder of the Pandemic Action Network. “Leaders should make clear and consistent policies around the importance of wearing a mask outside the home when in public. If nearly everyone wears a mask, practices handwashing and social distancing we can end the pandemic more quickly, prevent suffering and save lives.”

Global Citizen is supporting World Mask Week by encouraging Global Citizens to wear a mask. “We are proud to support World Mask Week as our supporters take action in every corner of the globe to push their leaders to adopt clear rules on wearing a mask in public,” said Michael Sheldrick, Chief Policy and Government Affairs Officer, Global Citizen. “We also need global leaders to govern by example. When we all wear masks, citizens become more focused on listening to the guidance of the medical community, and together we are better suited to help save lives.”

The Pandemic Action Network was launched in April 2020 to drive collective action to help bring an end to COVID-19 and to ensure the world is prepared for the next pandemic. Since launch, the Network has been working with influencers to promote mask wearing– along with social distancing and handwashing – to help stop the spread of COVID-19. World Mask Week provides the opportunity to continue to sustain this momentum, uniting disparate parties around a single message.

World Mask Week partners and activities represent a broad spectrum. For example:

● WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus launched the #WearAMask challenge to mark the beginning of World Mask Week, asking people to share their mask photos and videos

● Africa CDC will announce World Mask Week at their press briefing today and follow-up with a presentation by Pandemic Action Network during a training on infection prevention and control for COVID-19 being organized for journalists later in the day. Africa CDC is also posting messages about World Mask Week on its social media platforms

● The gaming industry, under its #PlayApartTogether initiative, is integrating World Mask Week messages and images into its games. ‘MASK’ will be the ‘Word of the Day’ in iconic mobile game, Words With Friends 2, on Friday, August 7th. Players around the world find entertainment, comfort, connection and community in the game, and on the kick off day to World Mask Week, they will find an important reminder to #WearAMask.

● iHeartMedia is integrating World Mask Week content into their programming

● World Economic Forum and their Global Shaper and Young Global Leader networks will join the campaign via social media

For more information, visit worldmaskweek.com.

About the Pandemic Action Network
The Pandemic Action Network drives collective action to help bring an end to COVID-19 and to ensure the world is prepared for the next pandemic. The Network consists of 40+ organizations aligned on the mission to promote policies that save the most lives and protect livelihoods by ending the cycle of panic and neglect on pandemics.

1. CDC. About Cloth Face Coverings. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/about-face-coverings.html.
2. Prather KA, Wang CA, Schooley RT. (2020). Reducing transmission of SARS-CoV-2. Science 368(6498):144-1424.
3. Lyu W, Wehby, GL (2020). Community use of face masks and covid-19: evidence from a natural experiment of state mandates in the US. Health Affairs 39(8).
4. Chan TK. (2020). Universal masking for COVID-19: evidence, ethics and recommendations. BMJ Global Health 5:e002819. doi:10.1136/bmjgh-2020-002819.
5. Lai CC, Liu YH, Wang CY, et al. (2020). Asymptomatic carrier state, acute respiratory disease, and pneumonia due to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2): facts and myths. J Microbiol Immunol Infect 53 (3):404-412. doi:10.1016/j.jmii.2020.02.012.
6. Kai, De, Goldstein, Guy-Philippe, Morgunov, Alexey, Nangalia, Vishal, Rotkirch, Anna, Universal Masking is Urgent in the COVID-19 Pandemic: SEIR and Agent Based Models, Empirical Validation, Policy Recommendations, https://www.researchgate.net/publication/340933456_Universal_Masking_is_Urgent_in_the_COVID-19_Pandemic_SEIR_and_Agent_Based_Models.

CONTACTS:
Jessica Ross (US)
jessica.ross@evokegroup.com
+1-267-254-5577

Connie Bunch (UK)
connie.bunch@evokegroup.com
+44 7557 1954511

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Other World Mask Week Commitments

The following organizations are conducting additional activities for World Mask Week:

American College of Preventive Medicine will feature World Mask Week at Preventive Medicine 2020 Online (virtual conference)

The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene is supporting World Mask Week through emails to its tropmed and global health communities, and by promoting #WorldMaskWeek on its Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn pages

Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists will feature World Mask Week in their newsletter and on social media

Federation of American Scientists is leading the charge on advocating for a mask-related resolution in the U.S. Congress and supporting World Mask Week media and social media

FIND Diagnostics is sharing content across their social media channels and pitching an op-ed encouraging people to wear masks

Global Health Strategies is sharing content across their social media channels

Global Health Council is participating in the World Mask Week social media campaign

Global Health Technology Coalition is participating in the World Mask Week social media campaign

Goodbye Malaria is sharing content across their social media channels and is working to share World Mask Week messaging through the Ndlovu Youth Choir

Grayling is conducting World Mask Week activities in Russia including developing an op-ed for local media, work with influencers to share the message and promoting across social media

International Association of Providers in AIDS Care (IAPAC) will be participating via social media, through both the @IAPAC and @FastTrackCities handles

Johns Hopkins University Center for Communication Programs (CCP) and Breakthrough ACTION for Social and Behavior Change are sharing World Mask Week with their global CCP field offices and Sister NGO partners

Management Sciences for Health is participating in the first ever World Mask Week by highlighting Senior Leadership and field team members across the globe on the importance of wearing masks to prevent the spread of coronavirus and why they are #maskingforafriend”

Nuclear Threat Initiative is sharing content across their social media channels

ONE Campaign is publishing a blog and encouraging supporters (via email) to get involved in the week, sharing some of the best tips on how to correctly wear a mask on social media and sharing pictures of some of their global activists wearing their masks

PATH is sharing content across their social media channels, and Global Health Security Director Linda Venczel is available for media interviews

Rockefeller Foundation is participating in the World Mask Week social media campaign

Society for Health Communication encouraged its international membership base of health communicators to participate in World Mask Week

United Nations Foundation is sharing content across their social media channels and engaging their influencer network to promote the week

UNICEF will be sharing UNICEF-related mask content and messaging on social media throughout World Mask Week