Cloth face masks might not stop the omicron variant from transmitting between COVID-19 patients, according to health officials.
Dr. Asha Shajahan, the medical director of Community Health for Beaumont Grosse Pointe in Detroit, told Fox 2 Detroit that a cloth mask isn’t enough to stop omicron. Instead, people need heavy-duty masks to ward off the variant.
- “You want to make sure it’s at least a three layer surgical mask or an N-95 or higher,” she said. “We want to make sure it’s not a cloth mask. A cloth mask does not offer the protection that you need.”
Single-layer cloth masks aren’t enough to stop the omicron variant, she said. Surgical masks can work, though.
- “The purpose for wearing a mask is to offer filtration from the aerosol particles of the virus,” she said.
- “If you have a cloth mask you want to make sure it’s at least 2-3 layers, but I would recommend getting a surgical mask that actually has the filters built into the material,” Shajahan said.
This seems to be a running theme among experts. Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of health policy and infectious diseases at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, told Health that face masks might not be enough to stop the omicron variant.
- “Omicron produces more virus, even than delta,” Schaffner told Health. “So, the masks’ capacity to interrupt or reduce transmission back and forth is likewise reduced.”
- “Masks are for now, they’re not forever,” Walensky told ABC News. “We have to find a way to be done with them.”