Do you need a better mask to better protect yourself from COVID omicron variant?

Masks should fit snugly to your face

With the increased ability for the omicron variant to spread, many people are wondering if it’s time to up their mask game. It was thought the CDC would issue new recommendations but that does not appear to be the case. That’s why Local 4′s Dr. Frank McGeorge is answering questions about better masking tactics.

With the increased ability for the omicron variant to spread, many people are wondering if it’s time to up their mask game.

It was thought the CDC would issue new recommendations but that does not appear to be the case. That’s why Local 4′s Dr. Frank McGeorge is answering questions about better masking tactics.

Any mask is better than no mask. A mask will at least decrease the amount of virus you’re exposed to, making it easier for your body to defend itself and leading to a less severe illness.

Cloth masks have the least effective amount of filtration. That means more and larger sized aerosols that contain virus will get through. Because omicron is so much more infectious it takes smaller amount of infected aerosol to infect you and clothes masks can only do so much.

Surgical masks are a bit better and now they’re widely available. They aren’t as good as an N-95 or KN-95 mask, but they’re much less expensive.

A better and still inexpensive option is to use a washable cloth with a surgical mask. The key is to make sure they are tightly fitted to your face. Gaps between the masks and your skin will allow unfiltered air to get to you.

How to make the most of a N-95 or KN-95 mask

Be practical. While the masks are disposable, if you’re only wearing them for brief times when you want the most protection and they are clean then you don’t need to throw them away.

Hang it in a clean area and let it sit for three days and then you can use it again. You should throw it out if the elastic starts to get loose, or if it becomes harder to breathe through. Also, the CDC said they shouldn’t be reused more than five times.

Part of the reason N-95 or KN-95 masks are more effective is that they fit tightly to your face. If they don’t fit snugly, instead of air going through the filter, it will just sneak around and get to you unfiltered.

Read: Complete Michigan COVID coverage


About the Authors:

Dr. McGeorge can be seen on Local 4 News helping Metro Detroiters with health concerns when he isn't helping save lives in the emergency room at Henry Ford Hospital.

Kayla is a Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit. Before she joined the team in 2018 she worked at WILX in Lansing as a digital producer.