Ben Asks a Question: How effective are masks against COVID-19?

Amy Acton, Mike DeWine mask
Posted at 7:16 PM, May 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-07 20:15:03-04

COLUMBUS, Ohio — With some restaurants in Ohio now allowed to begin reopening as soon as May 15, Ohioans are about to see more and more people wearing masks out in public.

As Gov. Mike DeWine made his announcement about reopening restaurants, salons, barbershops and more during Thursday’s daily press briefing, I was already prepared to ask a question sent in by WCPO viewer Jen Cook. Cook wanted to know how effective masks are, and if their effectiveness can translate into less of a need for social distancing. This question was sent in before DeWine’s announcement of reopening restaurants, so I decided to ask Ohio’s Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton about how much risk Ohioans face if everyone wears a mask inside restaurants.

Ben Asks a Question is a feature we started as a way to help give you a voice during Gov. Mike DeWine's daily press briefings. Since then, Ben has gotten hundreds of questions a day. If you'd like to ask a question, find us on Facebook and feel free to message us there, or send us an email at

Acton reiterated much of the DeWine administration’s past suggestions, telling Ohioans that wearing a mask can help ensure the safety of those around you.

“The science has proven now that this can make a big difference for us,” said Acton. “This really does make a difference; it’s that one thing we can do to help each other out. We do a lot of things in life to help each other out, to keep each other safe … We do a lot of things now that we weren’t used to; [wearing masks] should be one of those things, and it really will make a difference.”

Acton continued to say Ohioans should feel free to take their masks off while not around others -- while being easily able to cover their mouth and nose while interacting with other people.

“Take it off when you’re free in your car and it’s just you, and take it off maybe when you’re out in nature where no one is around,” said Acton. “But it’s very easy to just wear around your neck and pull up when you’re entering a space, and that will make a tremendous difference with how we fare in Ohio.”

Restaurants in Ohio will be allowed to serve outdoor guests beginning on May 15, with indoor dining allowed on May 21. Guidelines for specific types of businesses beginning to reopen can be found here.