By Molli Curtis
Plymouth Whitemarsh '21
As many of us have recently heard, multiple new variants of the not so beloved COVID-19 have started to emerge. These new variants have been labeled as more contagious than the original strand introduced at the beginning of the pandemic. Because of the increased risk of contagion, doctors and coronavirus officials have stated that people should start to double up on their masks or invest in some N95’s, the most protective masks that are used primarily by healthcare workers.
Ultimately, these actions are easier said than done. Compared to other countries, the U.S. is well behind others in terms of mass mask production and distribution to all citizens. Some countries in Asia are even capable of distributing medical grade masks to peoples doorsteps. Former CDC director Tom Friden mentioned how this evidence is supportive of the fact that the U.S., while we think is doing enough, still has room to improve on controlling the virus. On the other hand, while still supportive of double masking, trusted coronavirus expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, recommended that people find a more comfortable way to become even more protected. He shared how it is not all about the two masks, but more about two layers. He stated that as long as the facial covering has at least two layers of fabric, it will offer more protection than just one.
While there is already a federal mask mandate in place issued by President Biden that covers mask wearing in airports, on planes, and in all federal buildings, nothing has been issued about medical grade masks or double masking, which ultimately offers more protection than many of the masks individuals are still wearing.
The most difficult part of this, in the end, is that we truly still don’t know all the information, and what we do know changes constantly. While today we claim double masking and extra layers are important, by next week we may discover that was incorrect, and it really doesn’t matter. But with the information we have right at this moment, medical grade masks or doubling up are the most effective ways to stay protected. If we continue with this, and learn how to adapt to the new emerging strands of COVID-19, we should hopefully be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel.