DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – From state leaders to epidemiology and infectious diseases experts, there is a plea to wear a mask when you have to go out in public. Many believe it’s vital for slowing the spread of COVID-19 and keeping businesses open.

Whether it’s at a gas station, the hotel he works at or any other public place, Keith Herbert wears one.

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“I think it’s vitally important,” he said. “We’re talking about the health of everybody we come in contact with, not only ourselves. We just can’t take it lightly.”

But not everyone agrees. For months, there’s been talk ​about how effective masks are in slowing the spread of COVID-19. ​

Now, two leading epidemiology and infectious diseases experts at UT Southwestern Medical Center are providing new insight, sharing what they’ve learned during the ​Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas’ recent “Global Perspectives Speaker Series.”​

“Really, in the past ​week, there are a couple of ​good studies that ​have come out and have looked at ​how ​effective masks are in the setting of ​COVID and they are reducing infection ​and ​they are reducing infections about 70%,” UT Southwestern Medical Center Division of Infectious Diseases Chief Dr. Trish Perl said. “You wearing a ​mask alone reduces it by 70%. That’s a regular ​mask.”​

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“The majority of the transmission is just by ​talking, yelling, breathing — people who are asymptomatic ​and don’t know they have it,” UT Southwestern Medical Center Division of Epidemiology Director Dr. Robert Haley said. “That’s why it’s ​spreading so widely out there, so if everybody wore a mask ​almost all that would be stopped.”

In response to the continued spread in Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott ordered face masks to be worn in counties with 20 or more COVID-19 cases earlier this month and now says he believes wearing masks is the key to keeping businesses open.

“The only way we can, people continue to have a job, ​they need to pay their bills, is for everybody to adopt ​this practice of wearing a face mask,” Abbott said. “Doctors have proven ​that this is the safe way to engage in ​commerce while also slowing the spread of the coronavirus.”​

​In an interview on Face the Nation Sunday, ​Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams said he regrets telling Americans in the past to ​not wear masks. At one point, Tweeting in all caps ​“SERIOUSLY PEOPLE, STOP BUYING MASKS.​“

“We’ve learned more about asymptomatic spread up to ​50% of people who can spread this disease, spread it without having symptoms,” Adams said. ​”That’s why the American people need to know that science is about giving the best recommendations you can” ”

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Adams went on to say when you learn more, you change the recommendations and his recommendations have changed. ​

Erin Jones