As more unmask, are people getting sick with the common cold?

Published: Wednesday, April 6, 2022 - 10:19am
Updated: Friday, April 8, 2022 - 11:32am

Masks are coming off and social distancing has gone mostly by the wayside, which means some people are starting to get the sniffles. 

For the last two years, most of us have been hyperfocused on the coronavirus. But now that masks are coming off, there are other germs floating around. 

Will Humble is the executive director for the Arizona Public Health Association. He said, "there's a lot of anecdotal evidence when you just talk to people about how they're getting more colds, and illnesses and just sickness in general, over the last few months." 

But masks, Humble said, had another less recognized use which might have helped keep the common cold at bay: "Which is that having a mask on your face keeps your fingers out of your nose and mouth. And that's also effective at keeping the germs off of your hands."

Humble says remote work and other mitigation strategies also played a role in reducing non-COVID illnesses. 

"But also people getting together it's socializing more and going back to work. So all those things are putting together a combination of factors that's causing influenza to come back this year, but also anecdotally more people getting colds that they weren't used to getting over the last couple of years."

Science Health + Medicine