It might be time to either upgrade your face mask, or start wearing two of them, as medical officials believe it will provide more protection against more contagious strains of coronavirus.
According to the Washington Post, there is currently debate over whether Americans should be encouraged to wear two masks at the same time or whether high-end masks typically reserved for healthcare workers should be made available to the public. There is concern among some officials that encouraging the widespread use of KN95 and N95 would deter people from wearing masks due to discomfort.
Just have to say that after hearing how my dad struggled with the disease, and seeing friends lose parents to it, I think it’s safe to say catching COVID is probably a little more uncomfortable than wearing a N95 mask.
Tom Frieden, former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told the Washington Post that he favors the use of higher quality masks by the public. “The existence of more-transmissible viruses emphasizes the importance of us upping our game and doing not more of the same but better of the same. Yes, that is confusing to people, but the key is to share what we know when we know it and be frank about what we don’t know,” Frieden told the Washington Post.
Linsey Marr, a Virginia Tech engineering professor who has researched mask effectiveness, told the Post that if people can’t acquire a medical-grade mask, that wearing a cloth mask over a surgical mask could provide a similar level of protection.
“Those standard cloth masks might be around 50 percent effective in terms of protecting yourself,” Marr told the Post. “Maybe that was good enough before when combined with distancing and trying to avoid being in crowded indoor spaces.”
Considering that we’re almost a year into the pandemic, and we only now have an administration taking it seriously, it should come as no surprise that other countries are further ahead when it comes to manufacturing and distributing high-quality masks. Countries such as Singapore and South Korea have already begun mass-producing high-quality masks to distribute among the public, and multiple European countries have issued mandates for medical-grade masks to combat the new strain, which is believed to be 70 percent more contagious.
Officials told the Washington Post that there was an effort by the Trump administration in the early days of the pandemic to get underwear companies to manufacture at least five masks for every American household, but those plans fell apart because, well, it was an effort by the Trump administration. I mean, one of the complaints about the masks manufactured by the underwear companies was that they looked…like underwear.
So yeah, we’re just going to move on to this pull quote, because I can’t with the foolishness.
From the Washington Post:
The CDC encourages Americans to choose well-fitting masks with “two or more layers of washable, breathable fabric” and to avoid surgical masks and other face coverings meant for health-care workers.
President Biden has embraced masks as a core strategy for ending the pandemic, mandating face coverings on planes, in airports and in all federal buildings. But he has not called for a medical-grade-mask mandate or mass production of high-quality masks.
The CDC and White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Some public health experts said the federal government should have prioritized certifying or manufacturing better masks earlier so Americans do not have to fend for themselves to avoid counterfeits or upgrade their own.
There are concerns among officials that updating the mask policy might be poorly received by the public due to just how politicized the use of masks became last year. The GOP did an excellent job convincing half the country that protecting yourself from a new, potentially fatal virus was somehow a violation of their rights. It also didn’t help matters that medical officials flip-flopped on the necessity of wearing a mask during the onset of the pandemic, with experts, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, saying they weren’t necessary to combat the spread of the disease in the earlier days of the pandemic.
“When you look at leaders and you see mixed messages like the ones you’ve seen in the past, you tend to latch onto the ones that make you feel comfortable,” David Abrams, a professor of social and behavioral health at New York University told the Washington Post.
“Let’s face it: This is changing very quickly and science is making progress and sometimes we even make mistakes and correct them. There’s nothing wrong with that or learning how to do something better. The double-masking is a good example of that,” Abrams added.
All can I say is this: Over the past year, Black people have disproportionately caught this disease, and COVID-19 was the third-leading cause of death for Black people last year. I’m no scientist, but if wearing two masks can provide even just a little more protection from catching the virus and potentially prevent more Black death, then you can catch your boy double masked up for the foreseeable future.
So as always, avoid gatherings, wash your hands and wear your mask(s).
Originally published January 28, 2021, 5:00 PM