A comprehensive study shows wearing masks significantly reduces the number of infections, far more than other measures such as social distancing. It shows that airborne transmission is highly virulent and dominates the spread of COVID-19. It reveals that the difference with and without masks represents the determinant in shaping the trends of the pandemic.
Link to article: https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2020/06/10/2009637117
This article in Scientific American points out that three-quarters of the emerging pathogens that infect humans leaped from animals, many of the creatures in the forest habitats that we are slashing and burning to create land for crops, including biofuel plants, and for mining and housing. The more we clear, the more we come into contact with wildlife that carries microbes well suited to kill us—and the more we concentrate those animals in smaller areas where they can swap infectious microbes, raising the chances of novel strains.
Link to article: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/stopping-deforestation-can-prevent-pandemics/
The paper projects that the US may have to endure social distancing measures — such as stay-at-home orders and school closures — until 2022, unless critical care capacity is increased substantially or treatment or vaccine becomes available. Another round of the virus is possible once social distancing measures are lifted. Even in the event of apparent elimination, SARS-CoV-2 surveillance should be maintained since a resurgence in contagion could be possible as late as 2024.
Link to paper: https://science.sciencemag.org/content/early/2020/04/14/science.abb5793.full