PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — As a new, more contagious variant of the coronavirus continues to pop up in parts of the United States, including Massachusetts, health experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci are suggesting that wearing an extra mask may better protect people from infection.
Dr. James McDonald, the Rhode Island’s Department of Health’s medical director, tells 12 News that he agrees.
“A lot of us are asking ourselves, ‘look, what can I do to protect myself against the variant?'” he said. “Because I don’t think it’s a matter of if it’s coming, but when it’s coming, so how do we keep ahead of the virus? This is when double masking can be a good idea.”
If you can’t double up or don’t want to, McDonald said buying higher-quality masks is a good alternative.
“A double mask will offer better protection and if you’d rather not do a double mask, update your mask quality to a K95 or N95,” McDonald explained.
“I doubt you can find medical-grade N95 masks and quite frankly, that’s OK. Leave them for those working in the hospital,” he continued. “But these, which are pretty good, you can get these online and the K95 are readily available and have been so for months now.”
McDonald also said there are masks that no one should be wearing, even as a second layer.
“As much as I hate to say it, you know the ‘gator’ masks? Those are probably not helpful anymore, and these tube-like masks, we are beyond them,” he said. “I probably wouldn’t use them. They don’t really give you any protection and they are not even the best at source control.”
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported more than 120 cases of COVID-19 caused by the variant to date.