Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Rachel Levine said on Thursday that residents in the state should be prepared to keep wearing masks through the end of 2021.
The first doses of a COVID-19 vaccine could arrive in the state as early as next month, according to PennLive.com, but officials said this early supply would be reserved for front-line health care workers, first responders, and elderly residents in long-term care facilities.
Afterward, high-risk populations would be vaccinated, and then the general public, Levine said.
“We anticipate we’re going to be rolling this out through the winter and then into the spring and into the summer,” she explained.
“It could take a significant amount of time to immunize everyone in Pennsylvania,” she continued. “I anticipate we’re going to be wearing masks well into 2021, maybe to the end of 2021.”
A recent Danish study published last week discovered that face coverings are not effective at preventing the wearer from catching the coronavirus.
The study compared two groups, one that used masks and one that did not. In the non-face mask group, 2.1% of participants caught COVID-19, while 1.8% of participants in the face mask-wearing groups were also infected.
“The study thereby fails to confirm the expected halving of risk of infection for the wearer of the face mask, but the results could suggest a moderate level of protection of 15-20 percent,” the researchers said in a statement.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization argued as much back in March when the pandemic first broke out.
Now, however, health officials stand firmly behind mask mandates, regardless of whether the science supports them.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced this week that the federal government expects to deliver nearly 40 million vaccine doses by the end of the year, which is enough to vaccinate about 20 million people.