Is It Time To Start Wearing A Mask Again?

Is It Time To Start Wearing A Mask Again?

In late August 2023, hospitalizations due to COVID-19 steadily climbed. The data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed that hospital admissions increased by 19% during the week ending August 19, 2023. Compare that to early June of 2023 when the weekly average of positive COVID-19 tests was about four percent. That figure has since tripled to 13.4%, and the region of Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas, and New Mexico hit a positivity rate of 18%. 

Ever since states made masks completely optional, the percentage of people wearing masks outside their home in the U.S. decreased. The percentage went from about 57% in January 2022 to around 27% in January 2023, according to data from Covid States Project. Did vaccines have anything to do with that? It’s not for us to say, especially since vaccinated individuals may not be protected against new subvariants

Infectious disease specialists still argue that masks can provide good protection in several scenarios. Many people don’t want to wear masks for their own reasons, while others continue to wear masks to protect themselves or other high-risk individuals. Wear a mask or don’t wear a mask, and let everyone do what they feel is right for them. 

COVID-19 Mask Mandates Reappear

Overall COVID-19 indicators are down from this time last year, but some institutions don’t want to take chances. For example, Morris Brown College in Atlanta, Georgia posted on Instagram that it was restarting the mask mandate because of positive COVID-19 cases among students. Becker Hospital Review found eight hospitals that reintroduced face covering rules. Kaiser Permanente’s Santa Rosa Hospital in California states that masks are required upon entrance and throughout the duration of your visit. 

Other institutions that recently reinstated mask policies include Upstate Medical University in Syracuse and Auburn Community Hospital in Auburn, New York. UMass Memorial now requires employees to wear masks when visiting emergency room and cancer patients.

Should You Consider Masking Again? 

Infectious disease experts also recommend that you wear masks, or at least take more precautions, in certain situations. Consider wearing a mask in a public space if the following conditions apply to you:

  • Going on a big trip in the very near future
  • Getting married or attending a wedding soon
  • Taking care of someone who is immunocompromised

For people who have a higher risk of severe COVID-19 complications, consider wearing a mask in crowded public spaces. Planes, trains, or enclosed areas with lots of people are breeding grounds for COVID-19. Nobody wants to get COVID-19, so take matters into your own hands and increase protection. 

If You Choose To Mask, Wear It Right

If you wear a mask, don’t wear it as a chin diaper. Make sure that you secure the face covering over your nose and mouth to protect yourself from breathing in contaminated droplets. There are many high-quality masks available these days, so get one that fits well. KN95s and surgical masks offer great protection, while NIOSH-approved respirators offer the highest level of protection, according to the CDC. How much protection you need will depend on you and how much you want to stay safe. It’s hard to say what COVID-19 cases will look like in the coming months, but taking precautions may help limit the spread and keep communities safe.

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