Doctors suggest wearing upgraded masks as omicron spread continues

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Posted at 10:36 PM, Jan 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-12 23:21:35-05

(WXYZ) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says right now, any mask is better than no mask as they prepare to update their mask guidance.

Local doctors say it’s time to wear a tighter mask for better protection as the omicron variant of COVID-19 continues to spread across our nation and our state.

“It’s more contagious than delta, beta or wild-type variant. So, I understand the science and inclination to make the masks a little tighter fitting,” said Dr. Steve McGraw, the chairman of emergency at Ascension Providence.

McGraw says a cloth mask is not enough to fight omicron.

“I anticipate the CDC recommendation being upgraded for the new reality in which we find ourselves,” he said.

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky says Americans should continue to wear a well-fitted mask and be on the lookout for some new information.

“We are preparing an update to the information on our mask website to best reflect the options that are available for people and the different levels of protection different mask provide,” Walensky said.

McGraw says right now if you can, get your hands on an N95 mask.

“The medical grade N95 masks has very tight rubber bands that go around the head and fit across the bridge of the nose very tightly,” he said.

The N95 is a little pricier than other masks, but there are affordable tighter options like the KN95 mask, which is manufactured in China.

“They meet some standards. When you are trying to determine which you can afford, those will be better than a cloth mask,” McGraw said.

In a new mask study done by researchers at the University of Central Florida, findings show that wearing a face covering can reduce the distance that aerosols and droplets travel when someone is speaking or coughing possibly in half.

“Wearing a mask, especially indoors, is so important right now. The positivity rate in our metropolitan Detroit area is four times what it was a few months ago. We are really challenged,” McGraw said.

He says if you can’t get a N95 or KN95 mask, double masking is an option. McGraw says cover your mask with a cloth mask.

The Washtenaw County Health Department is hosting a mask drive on Thursday, Jan. 13 in Ypsilanti at 555 Towner Street. A second event will be held in Ann Arbor on Saturday, Jan. 15 at 705 N. Zeeb Road.

Each person will receive one 10-pack of KN95 masks for free. Supplies are limited. More information on the event can be found on the health department's Facebook page.

Additional Coronavirus information and resources:

View a global coronavirus tracker with data from Johns Hopkins University.

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