Just Any Mask is A Thing of the Past

PARK CITY, Utah. — New coronavirus variants emerging in the US have raised the question, ‘Should people be double-masking to protect themselves?’

“I can assure these variants are here; it’s just a matter of us testing more,” said Dr. Eddie Stenehjem in yesterday’s Intermountain COVID-19 Update.

The main viral variants the US is now facing include:

  • The B-117 strain from UK
  • A variant from South Africa
  • A newly identified variant from Brazil

There are two confirmed cases of the B-117 strain in Utah. 

“As of right now, it appears that the vaccine is going to work against these variants if these variants were to start circulating at high levels here in the United States, said Stenehjem. “Time is going to tell on that in terms of more data.”

Despite the new concerns, Stenehjem said everything looks to be heading in the right direction. But as many wait for the vaccine, concerns are increasing about how people can best protect themselves.

“As more variants are coming that are more infectious, that makes us stop and say, ‘okay, how do we make masks more effective?'” said Stenehjem. “One method to do that is to put more layers, or a double mask, to do that. That’s increasing that barrier between someone who is infected and yourself.” 

Stenehjem said the first priority is to wear a quality mask; one that is well-fitting with no big gaps, and that has multiple layers. 

“Up until now, it has just been, ‘wear a mask,'” said Stenehjem. “There hasn’t been any discussion about, is it a quality mask? Is it a mask that actually fits on your face? Is it one that has a nose-bridge and actually stays there, or does it move when you talk?”

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