New Strains of COVID-19 Virus Call for Higher Quality Masks
Date: February 1st, 2021
As we move into a second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, it would seem that we are being faced with yet another obstacle to managing this virus. New strains that surfaced in Britain, South Africa and Brazil have now been identified in 22 states, with hot spots in California and Florida. While infectious disease specialists insist that these mutations are not a cause for panic, they acknowledge a more urgent need to comply with public health mitigation strategies, particularly mask wearing.
But is your current mask effective enough to help you evade any and all strains of the Coronavirus? Recent studies suggest that it might not be. Studies of the variant B.1.1.7, first identified in the United Kingdom, show that the virus is roughly 50% more transmissible than the original strain of the virus, resulting in higher case numbers and a bigger burden on healthcare systems.
So, what does this mean for your mask? Infectious disease experts are now upping the ante, or doubling down, when it comes to mask wearing by encouraging the use of double masks or higher-grade medical masks for the general public. The CDC still considers the N95 respirator to be the gold standard when it comes to protecting against COVID-19, but even with manufacturers increasing their output there will not be enough N95 masks to go around.
In a recent article, Dr. Liam Sullivan, an infectious disease specialist based in Grand Rapids, MI, strongly encourages people “to try to get the highest-quality mask they can get.” In lieu of an N95 mask, the KN95 masks offered by Conney Safety and Hazmasters are the next best thing. One KN95 mask is comparable in price to a cloth mask with nearly twice the level of protection.
In addition to protecting you from more viral strains of COVID-19, wearing a mask is now mandated in all federal buildings, at airports and on buses, planes and trains under an Executive Order issued by President Biden. If you must wear a mask, why not get the most effective one available?
Also, remember that wearing a mask is futile if you aren’t wearing it correctly and practicing good hygiene. Masks should completely cover your nose and mouth. Wash your hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer before you put your mask on and after you take your mask off. Store your masks in a breathable container, like a plastic bag, between uses.
As we move into the next phase of this pandemic, we can’t let our guard down. While more widely distributed vaccines are on the horizon, the emergence of new strains threatens to prolong our return to normalcy. A higher quality mask may be your ticket to a healthy return to life as we knew it.