as the highly contagious Omron variant expands explosively and fills hospital beds Across the region, health experts are urging Southern Californians to switch from cloth face coverings to sturdier, tighter-fitting masks that better protect them — and others — from coronavirus,
“You have to mask better than before,” said epidemiologist Andrew Noymer, an associate professor of population health and disease prevention at UC Irvine.
“In front of the highly permeable Omicron, cloth masks are pure theater,” Noymer said. “They don’t do anything.”
In some cases, the officers are Making the Switch to Better Masks a Necessity,
- Los Angeles County recently Mandatory that K-12 teachers Wear high-grade masks in the county.
- USC students and professors will have to upgrade to masks to be worn on campus starting Tuesday, January 18. As per the notice sent Wednesday, January 5, by university officials.
- Also on Wednesday, the LA County Public Health Department ordered employers whose employees work indoors, in close contact with people, to wear tight-fitting medical-grade masks, surgical masks or respirators such as the N95 and KN95 by Monday, Jan. 17.
- K-12 schools in the nation’s second largest school district, Los Angeles Unified, prepare to return to campus on Tuesday, Jan. Masks will be required at all times. He is outside as well as inside the house. All district staff must wear surgical masks or high quality masks. LA Unified children do not face a mandate on mask type, but teachers recommend that “all students Wear a well-fitting, non-fabric mask with a nose wire. ,
- Chapman University announced Friday, January 7, it is requiring everyone visiting campus Wear a surgical mask or a high quality model, As individual instruction returns on Monday, January 10th. The university said it will provide disposable medical grade surgical masks and KN95 masks. The decision follows a petition signed by more than 300 students calling for Orange County University to distribute free KN95 masks.
Senior Daniel McGreevy, who founded the Chapman Mask Project and started the petition, said that “when we want to be on campus, we want to do it safely, and the science is clear that better masks like KN95s can help prevent the spread of COVID-19.” Will stop The way most other masks won’t. ,
Driving calls for more effective face coverings, against a backdrop of mounting evidence there is an unprecedented rise in infections coronavirus creates tiny aerosols What floats in the air, said Dr. Russell Buhr, a pulmonary and critical care doctor at UCLA Health.
“Aerosols can remain suspended in the air for so long because they are lighter and smaller,” Buhr said.
And, Noymer said, tiny particles squeeze “between the threads of the fabric mask.”
Experts say higher-grade masks are better equipped to block potentially infecting particles and should be used from this point on – even if the ohmmicron wave begins to subside. Noymer said people should better wear masks “until further notice”.
To help people choose a cover that provides adequate protection, the California Department of Public Health This assessment of the capacity of the mask presents Prevention from COVID-19:
- the most effective: N95
- more effective: KF94, KN95, double mask, fitted surgical mask
- Effective: surgical mask
- least effective: cloth mask with three or more layers of cloth
Angel Acevedo, who lives in Yucaipa and works in an office in Moreno Valley, said he and his family were wearing surgical masks.
Then during the holidays, Acevedo learns that he has been exposed at work. He wanted better protection and peace of mind, so he ordered four boxes of N95 masks online, just before the end of the year.
Acevedo said he did it to protect his family — specifically his mother, who lives with him, who is just shy of 70 years old and has underlying health conditions.
“Now I don’t leave the house without an N95,” he said. “We’re in the middle of the highest level of spread we’ve ever been in, which I think warrants the extreme measure of N95.”
Long Beach City Health Officer Dr. Anissa Davis said people who are at risk of becoming seriously ill with COVID-19 or who live with people who should choose a high-grade mask.
No matter which mask a person buys, however, it is important that the cover is worn properly — over the mouth and nose, Davis said. She often sees masks covering people’s mouths, but not their noses.
“Sometimes they hang it by their chin,” she said.
Riverside County Deputy Public Health Officer Dr. Jennifer Chevinsky said it is also important that a mask fits snugly over a person’s face and “does not have gaps around the edges.” That said, the goal is that the air people breathe in and out go through the mask, not around it.
In short, Chevinsky said, “it all comes down to fit and filtration.”
She said the better a mask fits one’s face and filters the air, the more protection it provides.
UCLA doctor Buhr said there is a way to check if the mask is filtering the air you breathe. Breathing in, he said, you should notice that the mask “shrinks a bit on your face,” or pulls in toward the face.
“It tells you that the air is coming through the mask rather than at the edges,” Buhr said.
There was a time when health officials recommended against buying top-of-the-line masks.
At the start of the pandemic, for example, Orange County officials recommended people Leave N95 and surgical masks for healthcare workers And instead use a cloth mask, scarf or bandana.
Now, Buhr said, buying an N95 or similar respirator is a good idea because the health industry has ample supply.
The round of advice during the protracted pandemic is over.
For example, USC officials, their Instruction to USC Students and FacultySaid that bandanas, neck gaiters, scarves and cloth masks are not acceptable. Cloth masks are only allowed when worn with a medical mask underneath – an option that experts say will provide protection.
The change in masking advice comes as the number of confirmed coronavirus patients in hospitals continues to rise. As of Thursday, January 6, 779 were hospitalized in Orange County, 791 in Riverside County, 862 in San Bernardino County and 2,902 in Los Angeles County, according to state figures. While patient numbers are not as high as this time last year, at the worst point of the pandemic, more people with COVID-19 are being treated than they were during the summer delta boom.
On Friday, LA County reported another One-day record of over 43,000 new coronavirus infectionsCounty health officials said that, breaking the previous record set a day earlier.
Making matters worse, Buhr said, the omicron boom is happening at a time when hospitals are treating many people with other types of respiratory viruses and illnesses.
“Hospitals are really struggling,” said Dr. Troy Pennington, emergency room physician and emergency medical services physician at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center, operated by San Bernardino County in Colton. “Hospitals are filling up and they’re running out of available space.”
Experts say Omicron is three or four times more contagious than Delta, leading to colds. At the same time, the production of new variants is being considered. Generally mild episodes of COVID-19, While some take comfort from this, Buhr warns that O’Microon “is not light for everyone.”
“People still die from Omicrons,” he said.
Staff writer Lynn Tait contributed to this report.