for The Daily Beast

When Donald Trump suggested people besides himself wear cloth masks in public last week, it reignited a festering debate about whether the 2019 novel coronavirus is airborne.

For months, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) took the same position that the World Health Organization (WHO) currently has—that masks for healthy people aren’t necessary, as long as they practice social distancing and stay at least six feet away from each other. The agencies have maintained that the virus is transmitted by either direct contact with an infected person, fomites—an infected surface like a door handle—or from droplets that are produced when someone coughs or sneezes. 

But there’s mounting evidence that transmission may occur via aerosols, or viral particles produced during exhalation by way of talking, breathing, singing, and even outdoor exercise. And, some experts and critics of the new CDC guidelines say, there’s little evidence that cloth masks offer much protection from that terrifying possibility. (continued)