Top U.S. virologist and White House advisor Dr. Fauci warns: Here’s how to protect yourself from Omicron! Find out if you’re already following the infectious disease expert’s latest recommendations.
According to public health officials, more than one million new COVID infections were reported in the U.S. alone on January 10. This shocking number is part of the surge triggered by the Omikron variant, which is spreading so rapidly that it is estimated to already be responsible for more than 95 percent of cases in the country. While this COVID variant is causing breakthrough infections in fully vaccinated people, virus experts continue to warn that unvaccinated people remain at greatest risk. But if you’ve already been vaccinated and boostered, what else can you do to protect yourself as Omicron continues to spread? The White House’s top COVID advisor, Dr. Anthony Fauci, has just shared new insights on how you can protect yourself during this dangerous time. Read on to learn what the infectious disease expert says you need to do to protect yourself from Omicron.
Dr. Fauci says you should wear the right kind of mask in the midst of Omicron
Masks have once again become a major topic of conversation as the highly transmissible Omicron variant circulates in the United States. Many virus experts have warned since the delta variant that cloth masks do not provide enough protection against the contagious variants of COVID. And in a new interview with CNN, Fauci acknowledged that wearing the right kind of mask is important right now.
At the same time, there is no one right answer when it comes to choosing the best mask to protect against Omicron. According to the infectious disease expert, it comes down to finding the best protective mask to wear consistently.
“I recommend that you buy the highest quality mask that you can tolerate and that is available to you,” Fauci told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Jan. 11.
That means you might want to get an N95 mask – if you can tolerate it.
According to the CDC, a properly fitted N95 respirator approved by the U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health can filter up to 95 percent of airborne particles, making it the mask with the best protection against COVID. However, CDC guidelines state that surgical masks and N95 respirators should be for healthcare workers only throughout the pandemic.
Fauci told Cooper that those guidelines no longer apply because those masks are no longer in short supply. “Right now, there doesn’t seem to be a shortage of the masks that were not available some time ago,” he said. “If you can tolerate an N95 mask, do it. If you want to get a KN95, that’s fine, too.”
The health department says your mask should have two specific features
The CDC has also discussed the proper use of masks as the spread of Omicron continues. During a Jan. 12 White House press briefing, Rochelle Walensky, MD, director of the CDC, said the agency still recommends that people in the U.S. wear “well-fitting” masks to protect themselves against this newer COVID variant. Walensky echoed Fauci’s advice, saying that the mask you should be wearing now needs to not only fit well, but also be comfortable.
“The best mask you can wear is the one you will wear all day and can tolerate in public, indoors and where you need to wear it,” she said. “We want to emphasize that the best mask for you is the one you can wear comfortably.”
Experts say any mask is still better than no mask.
Ultimately, both Walensky and Fauci confirmed that the CDC’s official recommendation, even in light of the updated guidelines, is that any mask is better than wearing no mask at all. According to Fauci, while fabric masks do not provide as much protection as other masks, they still limit the spread of COVID to some degree.
“The CDC has said – and this is misinterpreted – that wearing a mask is better than no mask at all,” Fauci said. “But there’s a degradation in the ability to prevent getting infected and to prevent transmitting the disease to someone else. So we should wear the best mask we can get. That’s a fact.”