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Back in April, I wrote a tip about why you should upgrade your cloth mask after test results showed they’re not nearly as effective as medical-grade masks. I’ve been wearing high-quality masks ever since – especially when I travel. But it amazes me to see that so many Americans still aren’t, even with Omicron just plowing through people.
Seven of my neighbors from three different households have come down with it and they were all vaccinated and some had COVID in the past. The reason is that they let their guard down. Fortunately, their symptoms have been mild except for their toddler who ran a fever.
Omicron is disrupting airline schedules; over 13,000 flights have been cancelled since Friday, mostly because of flight crew getting sick and not being able to find replacements (one of the main reasons the CDC just reduced quarantine from 10 to 5 days for asymptomatic people). It’s not surprising to learn from a medical advisor for the International Air Transport Association (IATA) that Omicron doubles or triples the risk of infection on flights.
According to the South China Morning Post: “Whatever the risk was with Delta, we would have to assume the risk would be two to three times greater with Omicron, just as we’ve seen in other environments,” Dr David Powell, medical adviser at the International Air Transport Association, said on Tuesday. “The relative risk has probably increased, just as the relative risk of going to the supermarket or catching a bus has increased with Omicron,” Powell added.
That stat is scary and should make everyone who’s still using virtually useless cloth masks upgrade their masks, especially travelers. Dr. Anne Rimoin, a Professor of Epidemiology at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health and Infectious Disease Division of the Geffen School, was on our local Spectrum News this morning saying people really need to get rid of cloth masks and use a KN95, KF95 or KF94 when indoors. She advises leaving N95s for healthcare workers. If you’re having trouble finding face masks, also check out WellBefore for KN95 face masks and KN95 face masks for kids.
According to MarketWatch: “Because we know that COVID is airborne, the quality of the mask really matters,” Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency physician and public health professor at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health, told MarketWatch. And a single-layer cloth mask “provides very little protection against the delta variant, and certainly against the very contagious omicron variant,” she added. “This is why it’s so critical to upgrade our masks.”
Another UCLA doctor who treats my friend who has long-haul COVID said he could travel as long as he wore an N95 and a face shield since he was more susceptible.