Modeling the Effectiveness of Face Coverings in Curtailing SARS-CoV-2 Spread
Face coverings by the general public are widely being recommended for limiting the spread of COVID-19. Several states have also mandated using masks in public places. However, its potential and correct use are still relatively unknown. Several studies have assessed the effectiveness of masks by implementing the SIR model of epidemics, but they have certain limitations. This thesis addresses these limitations by modeling for shortcomings in the practical use of masks. The primary limitation addressed is the high transmission rate through high-frequency areas in the closed settings. A multi-group Kermack-McKendrick-type compartmental mathematical model was used to model different scenarios and simulate them with actual data to evaluate the effectiveness of face coverings. It is established that perfect use of face coverings contributes significantly to lowering the spread, but its practical implementation is still highly dependent on strict compliance and effective surface-contact transmission rate.