By: Lily Caravela
With new variants of COVID-19 spreading across the globe, it is crucial that people upgrade their masks, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
It was evident that the newly discovered COVID-19 virus would have variants since viruses change through mutation. New strains of COVID-19 have been found in the United Kingdom, South Africa, and Brazil, and have rapidly spread to the United States, the CDC says. Scientists have discovered that these new variants have been spreading faster, essentially predicting that there will be an increase in positive cases, hospitalization, and death. Researchers are unaware of how widely these new strains have spread across the nation, how they might affect the new vaccine, and how new variants have been formed.
Wearing the right protection is essential in keeping ourselves and others safe from the new COVID-19 strains. The “CDC recommends community use of masks, specifically non-valved multi-layer cloth masks, to prevent transmission of SARS-CoV-2” (CDC)
Double masking, as tested by the CDC, is the combination of wearing a cloth mask over a medical procedure mask, that can provide more protection. Any other combination, like a cloth over cloth mask, or a medical mask over a medical mask, have not been tested yet.
In recent studies in January 2021, the CDC had tested the use of double masking. The receivers’ air exposure had been reduced by 92.5% when wearing a cloth mask over a medical procedure mask. Wearing two masks had been found to be substantially more effective than wearing single masks. A single surgical mask covered about 42% of particles and a single cloth mask covered about 44% of particles.
According to the CDC, in other lab experiments, doubling-masking was protective against aerosols from breathing by blocking 83% of aerosols as well.
All of the tests had proved the importance of wearing a well-fitted mask to adequately prevent air gaps.
To bring this issue back home, JCHS is definitely not safe from the spread of the virus. Our school itself had 10 positive cases of COVID-19 in January of 2021.
JCHS school nurse Danielle Ciccaglione had stated, “According to the CDC, double masking is one of the ways we could prevent gaps while, at the same time, adding layers; the disposable mask should be on the bottom with the cloth mask on top. Double masking is helpful if one mask alone does not fit snugly and/or if one mask is not multi-layer”.
With over 3 million new cases of COVID-19 in February alone, it is crucial that our school, as well as our nation, help stop the spread of the virus in the right way. Wearing a multi-layered mask can do so effectively.
JCHS Math Teacher, Patti DeSantis, follows along in the precaution of wearing two masks. “It’s definitely hard. I feel like I have to project my voice a lot louder for my students in my classes. Some days I feel fine, but others it’s like I’m gasping for air,” says DeSantis.
If you don’t choose to double-mask, the CDC recommends wearing a mask that is washable, breathable, covers the nose, and doesn’t have any open gaps. Experts have said that the most protective mask from COVID-19 is the N95 mask. However, the CDC advised the public to steer clear of these respirator-type masks. This type of face-covering should be reserved for health care workers that are required to wear them while dealing with patients who are ill. Masks that make it hard to breathe and have apertures that allow air to seep through are also considered inefficient by the CDC.
With this unfamiliar virus, it is crucial that to keep ourselves protected, we must remain updated. The information about COVID-19 has been known to change frequently as researchers learn more.