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Masks need to be the ‘new normal,’ according to AAMC guidelines

People wore masks as they waited outside a testing location in Cambridge recently.
People wore masks as they waited outside a testing location in Cambridge recently.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

Face masks must be the “new normal” if the US hopes to gain control over the COVID-19 pandemic soon, according to a top official with the Association of American Medical Colleges.

The AAMC on Wednesday issued its national guidance on the use of face masks, arguing that mounting scientific research shows face coverings greatly reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Dr. Atul Grover, executive director of the AAMC Research and Action Institute, said in a statement the guidelines are meant to create a “unified approach to wearing face masks and correct the often-conflicting messaging and misinformation out there.”

“Until we develop a vaccine and better therapeutics, prevention is the key to reducing the impact of this pandemic,” he said. “The quicker we make face coverings our ‘new normal,’ the faster we can gain control over COVID-19.”

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The AAMC says its guidelines are based on scientific research on mask usage from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, state and local governments, and public health experts.

The association urges everyone to wear a mask, including children as young as 2 years old, especially while indoors or riding in a car, bus, or airplane.

It also put the onus on businesses to insist that customers wear masks while inside any establishment, no matter the capacity limits in place.

Outdoors, the AAMC recommends the use of masks, even when just walking past others. If you don’t expect to be near others who aren’t in your household, a mask is not required.

Activities that cause people to exhale forcefully near each other, such as sports or singing, should also be avoided, according to the guidelines.

Detailed mask guidance from the association is available in the association’s statement and here.

Dozens of states, including Massachusetts, have issued mask orders.

A recent uptick in coronavirus cases caused state leaders to pause reopening and sparked concerns among officials and public health experts.

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On Tuesday, Governor Charlie Baker said a total of 33 Massachusetts cities and towns are at moderate or high risk for the coronavirus, including Boston, Worcester, and Springfield. The cities of Chelsea, Everett, Lynn, and Revere showed higher numbers – more than eight cases per 100,000 people – in the latest figures reported by the state.



Nick Stoico can be reached at nick.stoico@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @NickStoico.