As parents eagerly plan for their children to return to in-person classes, adults go back into the office and public gatherings are once again permitted, the Delta COVID variant has many people masking up again to stop the spread of the more contagious version of the virus. Your old cloth mask may need an upgrade.
According to a recently updated NPR Health News report, the Delta variant transmits more than twice as easily as the initial COVID-19 strain. It also replicates quickly in the noses and throats of infected people – leaving them carrying nearly 1,000 times more virus in their bodies than the original strain. The Delta coronavirus is currently one of the most contagious respiratory viruses known.
Given that children under the age of 12 and some individuals with compromised immune systems are not able to be vaccinated as yet, health officials in many regions are recommending a return to wearing face masks indoors, especially where social distancing is not possible. In addition to wearing clean, reusable cloth masks, it may be time to add a filter, tighten up the fit by tying up ear loops, or using a hair clip to ensure a snug fit. Doubling up your masks may also provide better protection for yourself and others.
Although the N95 masks are protective against infection if worn correctly, they can be uncomfortable to wear for long periods of time and there are counterfeit masks in circulation. You can check for an updated list of trusted and approved N95 surgical masks manufacturers and model numbers by following this link to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In addition to wearing a well-fitted face mask indoors, washing hands frequently, and avoiding indoor crowds, people can help slow the spread of the delta variant with full immunization once they are eligible. In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration has authorized a third dose of a COVID-19 vaccine for people with compromised immune systems. Mixing of mRNA vaccines is permitted for the third shot if the original dose is not available.
Although unvaccinated people are at greater risk for infection from the delta variant, fully vaccinated people with breakthrough Delta infections can spread the virus to others although they appear to be infectious for a shorter period of time. The Delta variant, according to the CDC, may cause more severe illness than previous stains in unvaccinated people.
Learn more about the Delta variant and its spread by following this link to the World Health Organization’s recent Science in 5 video post.