UVA Health doctors encourage upgrading your masks with omicron

As the omicron variant continues to spread, many experts are advising you to upgrade your mask.
Published: Jan. 2, 2022 at 9:16 PM EST
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - As the omicron variant continues to spread, many experts are advising you to upgrade your mask. More drug stores around Charlottesville are selling them, which is why doctors are encouraging you to get your hands on one.

“The big thing is they’re more widely available now,” Dr. Bill Petri with UVA Health said. “Early on, N95 or KN95 masks were being reserved for health care professionals.”

Petri says now, since they are accessible, they’re being recommended and encouraged for everyone.

“You just want to double-down on everything that you were doing before,” Petri said.”

Places in Charlottesville like Timberlake’s Drug Store on the Downtown Mall in Charlottesville are offering this form of protection.

“There’s really almost no difference between a KN95 and an N95,” Petri said. “They are much more widely available and it is good to buy them from somebody reputable, like one of the local drugstores or something because there’s a fair number of counterfeit N95 masks.”

Ultimately, doctors say any mask is better than not wearing one at all, but you should be careful based on your personal risk factors.

“They’re better at filtering out the virus than the the surgical masks and the surgical masks are better than the cloth masks,” Petri said.

Experts say your best chance at avoiding this new variant, is with a high filtration mask.

“Our rates in Virginia now are also going up really dramatically,” Petri said. “It is a very real risk of acquiring omicron.”

Doctors also recommend layered mitigation strategies, especially with omicron, which means getting vaccinated, boosted, wearing your mask, and avoiding crowded gatherings.

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