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The era of the beard may be coming to an end

Yes, the Centers of Disease Control have spoken out against men’s facial hair. It seems an odd commentary from the organization responsible for controlling the spread of infectious diseases in the U.S.

Nonetheless, the CDC has decreed soul patches and some goatees OK, as well as mustaches and side whiskers, but the stubble, beards and mutton chops might need to go.

So why is the CDC venturing into the fashion world of facial hair? Because of a virus — coronavirus, or COVID-19. According to the CDC, some types of facial hair, but not all types of facial hair, can interfere with how effective a mask or respirator is in filtering out particles that could be infectious.

Wednesday, it was announced that coronavirus has now spread to six continents and there have been more than 80,000 cases identified. Of course, there’s far more flu virus floating around out there, but the viruses differ in several ways, one of which is incubation period. The average incubation period for flu is two days, varying between one and four days. The incubation period of coronavirus is up to two weeks, which means people are walking around, unknowingly carrying the virus, for a much longer time. This is how the virus has spread globally in a single month, and this is also where face masks have come into play in locations where there have been outbreaks.

While this year’s flu has caused the deaths of more than 16,000 people in the U.S., that number comes from a very large pool of 29 million people who have contracted the illness this season — a very small fatality rate. Of the 79,936 people who contracted COVID-19, nearly 2,500 have died. While the 3.2% fatality rate is much lower than other coronaviruses, such as SARS and MERS, this, along with the global spread have the CDC labelling COVID-19 a “serious public health threat.”

The hope is that the virus will not get a foothold in the U.S. and measures are being take to prevent its spread. The hope is also that not a single life will be lost to the disease, but it could mean the demise of the era of beard.