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What to consider when masking this fall and winter as cases expected to rise

Posted at 4:10 PM, Sep 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-26 17:55:47-04

(WXYZ) — COVID-19 cases are expected to rise this fall and winter. Should Americans consider masking up to curb another surge?

We’ve seen this happen before: COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations increase when Americans head indoors due to colder weather.

I support public health measures that save lives. We still have over 400 Americans dying every day due to COVID-19. And that number could certainly go up this fall and winter if we don’t take the virus seriously.

Now, I know many Americans are tired of pandemic precautions, but the bottom line is that masks do work. I wear masks every day at the office, and they do prevent the spread of COVID-19. Having said that, I don’t foresee mask mandates returning unless new, more dangerous variants emerge.

So for now, individuals need to decide what’s best for them and their families. They should take into consideration their vaccine status, age and any underlying medical conditions. Research tells us that people who are vaccinated and boosted have a lower risk of getting severely sick and dying.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID Tracker has found that unvaccinated people have a seven times higher risk of dying compared to those who are fully vaccinated and boosted with at least one booster dose.

In my opinion, the best preventative health measure I highly recommend is for people to get fully vaccinated and then boosted with either Pfizer’s and Moderna’s new bivalent booster if you’re eligible. And then, mask up when you’re in crowded indoor spaces. Certainly, mask if you’re older, if you’re immunocompromised or if you have underlying health conditions that place you at higher risk.

The best mask is one that you’ll wear. Having said that, N95 or KN95 offer the best protection. But not everyone can wear them, especially for long periods of time. So if you can’t tolerate a respirator mask, then I would suggest a well-fitted disposable surgical mask. You may have to tuck it so that it doesn’t leave gaps around the side of the face or nose.

You can also wear cloth masks — you just want them to have a nose wire and be made with multiple layers of tightly woven fabric.   

Regardless of what mask is chosen, be sure that it fits well and covers your nose and mouth to prevent leaks. Leaving one or the other exposed will not provide enough protection against this virus.