Experts suggest mask upgrade to combat Omicron

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10)- As COVID-19 cases and new variants continue to surge, health experts are encouraging everyone to upgrade their masks.

“So if we have to wear a KN95 or a surgical mask I would do it just to be here,” said Union College, sophomore Jeremy Schmelkin.

Union College says to keep students in the classroom they are requiring booster shots as well as disposable surgical-style masks or KN95, KF94 masks to be worn instead.

Health experts say cloth masks alone do not provide adequate protection against the spread of omicron. 

Sophomore Ryan Nowak says he will do anything to avoid going back to remote learning.

“I mean we got to keep everyone safe we have professors that are older, and we have kids that have immune systems that need a little bit more help than me or Jeremy here.”

From colleges to hospitals, the Albany Stratton VA Medical center is not taking any chances either.

They have adopted new masking guidance for veterans and visitors entering the Stratton VA Medical Center and or any of its Community Clinics. The revised guidance requires veterans and visitors coming in to wear a medical procedure mask. 

The change in guidance excludes the use of cloth masks, including gators, neckerchiefs, and vented masks.

A medical procedure mask will be provided upon entry to anyone in need.

“The risk of getting the Omicron variant is significantly diminished by using a higher quality mask. So in the interest of protecting our veteran patients and the interest of protecting the staff, we made this change,” said Dr. Richard Howard.

Dr. Howard, the Chief of Staff at the Stratton VA says there is a list of masks and their effectiveness of blocking out germs.

It starts with the KN95 masks, N95 masks, surgical masks, and then cloth or gator masks.

“Most people are buying KN95 masks and the N95 have been very hit or miss very difficult to find,” said Pharmacist John McDonald.

The CDC says people can get several uses out of the KN95 and N95 masks. 

CDC guidelines recommend wearing your N95 and KN95 mask for no more than five uses. They suggest each person purchase a pack of N95’s and rotate when they wear each mask. 

Copyright 2022 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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