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Could we see masks forever?

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Mask, virus

(WSIL) -- Fewer people were diagnosed with seasonal flu this year, in part because we stayed home and wore masks. This raises the question of whether we will keep wearing masks after the pandemic lifts.

A study released in the Journal of Hospital Medicine, led by researchers from Vanderbilt University Medical Center, found across 44 children's hospitals the number of pediatric patients hospitalized for respiratory illnesses is down 62%.

Click here to read more from the study.

The number of kids in the U.S. who have died of the flu this season remains in the single digits. Deaths have dropped dramatically, too, compared with the past 10 years: The number of flu deaths among children is usually between 100 and 200 per year, but so far only one child has died from the disease in the U.S. during the 2020-21 flu season.

Adults aren’t getting sick either. U.S. flu deaths this season will be measured in the hundreds instead of thousands. In 2018-19, a moderate flu season, an estimated 34,200 Americans died.

According to a Poynter report, some experts argue that more societies should embrace masking — as some Asian countries have. But even infectious-disease experts like Dr. Ricardo Franco of the University of Alabama-Birmingham doubt that’s practical.

But even if it is not practical to think everyone might keep wearing masks, Franco says at least health care workers will routinely wear masks all the time at work.