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WERC Scientists Mask Up to Reduce Covid-19 Transmission

USGS research in 2020 means wearing face masks and face coverings to protect the health of people and wildlife. WERC ecologists showed off their masks in the field and lab to demonstrate USGS's commitment to health and safety.

The typical workday has looked pretty different over the past several months for workers around the world, and employees of the USGS Western Ecological Research Center (WERC) are no exception. Ensuring the continuation of scientific research during a global pandemic presents a real challenge. Many research projects operate on strict timelines. Some types of data, especially information about plants and animals, can only be gathered at particular times of year. At the same time, research institutions must protect the health of scientists and wildlife, as well as the public at large.

In some cases, the risks are high enough that certain field activities are on hold. At WERC, the annual spring sea otter census was cancelled, and bat researchers have paused any work that involves handling bats, turning their focus to hands-off methods like acoustic monitoring and roost counts. Other researchers are teleworking, redesigning how teams interact in the field and lab, attending virtual conferences and presenting virtual webinars.

But one simple tool that WERC scientists and staff are using to protect one another is the face mask. The CDC has recommended that all Americans wear masks to reduce COVID-19 spread. WERC employees from every field station are masking up to ensure that research can proceed safely. We asked them to model their masks—click through the slideshow for a sample of what WERC work looks like in 2020.