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Masks for Prevention of COVID-19 in Community and Healthcare Settings: A Living Rapid Review

Rapid Evidence Product
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Version 2 (June 24, 2020): This report is available in PDF and XSLX only (Living Rapid Review [997.1 KB]; Appendix Table B-1 [36.5 KB]; Appendix Table B-2 [12.6 KB]; Appendix Table B-3 [20.1 KB]). For additional assistance, please contact us.

Version 1 (June 18, 2020): This report is available in PDF and XSLX only (Living Rapid Review [1 MB]; Appendix Table B-1 [36.5 KB]; Appendix Table B-2 [12.2 KB]; Appendix Table B-3 [19.8 KB]). For additional assistance, please contact us.

Purpose

The healthcare field is struggling with urgent questions about how to respond to the current COVID-19 pandemic. Health systems, clinicians, policymakers, and the general public want evidence to inform critical decisions. In the face of a rapidly changing field and an ongoing pandemic in which people need to make healthcare decisions quickly, the Evidence-based Practice Center (EPC) Program will update this review on a regular basis as a "living review" to keep the medical community and the public up to date as more studies are published and these living reviews put new studies in the context of what is known.

This rapid review was commissioned to inform practice pointers developed by the American College of Physicians. This living review can help healthcare decision makers know what evidence is available, what evidence will soon be available, and what areas are most promising for future research. The review examined two questions:

Question 1. What is the effectiveness of respirators (e.g., N95) versus facemasks (surgical) versus cloth masks for prevention of COVID-19 in addition to standard precautions (gowns + gloves + handwashing)?

  1. In community settings
  2. In healthcare settings
    1. In high-risk healthcare settings (e.g., intensive care unit, emergency department)
    2. In healthcare settings with close contact but unknown risk (e.g., primary care, other settings)

Question 2. What is the evidence for extended use or reuse of N95 respirators for prevention of COVID-19?

The EPC Program welcomes comments and information about unpublished studies from the public to be considered in subsequent versions of this review. Please send any comments or unpublished studies to epc@ahrq.hhs.gov

Journal Citation

Chou R, Dana T, Jungbauer R, et al. Masks for prevention of respiratory virus infections, including SARS-CoV-2, in health care and community settings. A living rapid review. Ann Intern Med. 24 June 2020. [Epub ahead of print]. doi:10.7326/M20-3213.

Citation

Suggested citation: Chou R, Dana T, Jungbauer R, Weeks C, McDonagh M. Masks for Prevention of COVID-19 in Community and Healthcare Settings. Version 2. Rapid Evidence Product. (Prepared by the Pacific Northwest Evidence-based Practice Center under Contract No. 290-2015-00009-I). AHRQ Publication No. 20-EHC019. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. June 2020. Posted final reports are located on the Effective Health Care Program search page. DOI: https://doi.org/10.23970/AHRQEPCCOVIDMASKS2.