How to decide if you should wear a mask?

As the mask-wearing mandate is lifted and new coronavirus infections occur across the United States, there’s a lot of confusion about wearing masks and when, whether or not masks should be worn.

“This is the hardest thing, because it’s not just about risks and benefits for you,” said Dr. Robert Wachter, professor and chair of the department of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. “It’s a risk and a benefit to those around you.”

A good way to frame the problem is to ask: Who is the most vulnerable in your direct circle?

For example, if you are immunocompromised or live with someone who is sick, you should continue to wear a mask and maintain social distance from strangers, especially in indoor areas with standing air. where viruses can collect. Masks are also important if you are unvaccinated or spend time with unvaccinated people. Unvaccinated people are at a much higher risk of hospitalization and death from Covid-19. Masks are also a must in hospitals, where there are many vulnerable people.

But if you’re healthy and have had your vaccinations and boosters, the risk of serious illness with Covid is very small. It is consistent with other risks people take on a daily basis, such as driving a car.

Many people “are considering the fact that they want to get back to normal and might be willing to take a little risk to achieve the level of simplicity they last knew in 2019,” Dr. Wachter said. “It’s not unreasonable.”

There’s also always the risk that someone could have persistent Covid, even if they’ve been vaccinated, although much is still unknown about the condition.

If infection rates are high where you live, which happened pretty much everywhere during the latest wave of Omicrons, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to recommend wearing masks in most indoor spaces. . But in many situations, the decision to wear a mask is becoming a personal one.

We’ve talked to experts to help give you guidance on the places and situations where you should cover your face.

Yes little scientific evidence to show that face coverings provide more protection in many outdoor spaces such as sidewalks or parks. Things get a little more tangled with crowds, like at a concert or sports venue.

Dr. Asaf Bitton, primary care physician and chief executive officer of Ariadne Labs, a center of public health innovation at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health. “If you really stand shoulder to shoulder with people, that might be the case with wearing masks outdoors, at least for the time being.”

Erin Bromage, an associate professor of biology who studies infectious diseases at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, has been helping touring bands assess Covid risks throughout the pandemic. The main place he sees risk of transmission during concerts is in the standing room-only area near the stage.

“Where the risk is concentrated is mainly in the holes in the very, very front of the stage, where people are singing, doing physical activity,” Dr. Bromage said.

However, most outdoor concerts are generally safe, he said. “If you’re standing on the lawn watching a show, there’s really no data to prove that a mask does anything to protect you that Mother Nature doesn’t care about.”

And if the site requires a vaccine or a recent negative Covid test, you’re in even better shape.

First and foremost, follow the standards and rules of the business you’re in. If the sign at the door says “Masks required,” you don’t want to force retail employees to enforce policies over which they have no control. Their job is hard enough, and everyone can wear a mask without sacrificing at all.

If the business is the masking option, consider space, crowds, and airflow.

Dr. Bromage suggests a tobacco analogy: If someone is smoking, does the smell and taste of tobacco quickly fill the air? If so, so is the virus. You will be smart when you wear a mask. Otherwise, it is unlikely that you will get infected.

“When I walk into a space, I always do,” Dr. Bromage said. “How high is the ceiling? Does the air move? Can I create my own mini buffer? “

Get a big box store with high ceilings. “These tend to have good ventilation and because of the high ceilings there is a lot of dilution,” said Linsey Marr, a professor of engineering at Virginia Tech who studies airborne virus transmission. “Risk is pretty low, unless you are in a crowded line of people waiting to check out.”

“If it’s a smaller space and the space is crowded, like Trader Joe’s, or some market in New York with small aisles and people really packed there, then the risk is higher, ‘ she continued. “You might want to wear a mask.”

A hair salon can be a small space, but often there won’t be many people inside, so the risk of an infected person passing through is generally low, said Dr. Bromage. especially as the number of cases decreases.

At a restaurant, the cigarette smoke of someone at the next table won’t fill your upper air. But you’ll smell someone smoking at your dinner table, so your in-person dining friends are most at risk, Dr. Bromage said.

The gym can feel especially intimidating. Heavy breathing can expel more virus particles, but most gyms have excellent ventilation. (“If gyms don’t have good air circulation, they will stink,” says Dr. Bromage.) That means any virus particles that might be floating around are sucked in as well. sweat’s smell.

Dr. Bromage once again used the tobacco analogy. He was going to run on a treadmill without a mask, but he put an extra treadmill between himself and another jogger. But a spinning classroom, in a small room with “everyone screaming, shouting, hu hu hu hu hu hu hu hu hu hu ? Probably not, he said.

Public transport is exempt from local liability: You still have to wear a mask, each federation requirements.

It’s also just a good idea – On buses and subways, there are a lot of strangers moving in and out in a tight, enclosed space.

“That’s where I can still wear a mask,” Dr. Marr said.

When traveling by plane, you must wear a mask. There are no national regulations that require airline passengers to be vaccinated, so even if you’re vaccinated, you don’t know the status of those around you.

Also, you don’t want to ruin your vacation or business trip by getting sick and being quarantined, even if your risk of becoming seriously ill is still low.

Public health experts agree that school mask-wearing mandates shouldn’t last forever, but they differ in Is it time to get rid of them?. For parents, changing the rules can be confusing.

Here are some things you need to consider to make choices for your own family.

Children almost never get serious symptoms, whether they are vaccinated or not. Many students have gone to school without wearing masks during the pandemic – like in the UKparts of Europe and many states of the United States – and very few children become seriously ill.

Dr David Rubin, professor of paediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine, said: “The risk for children is consistently lower than for adults.

The jury also still does not know whether the mask impede social development. But some studies show that masks cause communication difficulties, limiting children’s abilities recognize each other or each other’s feelings.

Dr Rubin, who is also director of PolicyLab at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, said: “Children and their schools shoulder a collective burden, largely to protect adult lives.

And as the world opens up, consider all the ways kids hang out together. Masks can stop transmission in the classroom, but children interact outside of school hours.

Dr Bromage, who has consulted with schools on different mask policies, said: “Masks don’t work when people wear them in one situation, but after that day, they will remove. “All we’re doing is transferring infections from school to after school.”

Also, know that the United States is an exception to the cult of children’s masks. The World Health Organization does not recommend them for children under 5 years oldand the European Center for Disease Control and Prevention do not recommend them for Children under 12 years old.

Covid is not the only bug floating around, nor is it the only one that can harm vulnerable people. For example, the flu kills more than 30,000 Americans in a typical season, most of whom are elderly or immunocompromised.

“Flus and colds can be transmitted in the same way as Covid,” Dr. Marr said. “If you feel a little sick, you can spread the virus into the air and pass it on to other people. You should stay home or, if you must go out, wear a mask.”

A fit, High Quality mask will protect youEven if other people don’t cover their airways, experts say.

KN95, N95 and KF94 Masks are the best protection around, just make sure they are not fake. Cloth masks offer limited protection – especially if you don’t add a filter or second mask – and often gape surgical mask.

Here is the Wirecutter tutorial to purchase N95 and KN95 masks, and Here’s how to spot fakes. How to decide if you should wear a mask?

Fry Electronics Team

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