With record-breaking COVID case numbers, experts urge masking indoors


BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) – The Alabama Department of Public Health continues to report record-breaking COVID cases, adding more than 12,000 in the past 24 hours. The state’s positivity rate still sits well above 40% as of Thursday, and medical experts say the numbers have never been this high.

“We’re in the midst of about as bad of transmission episode of this epidemic as we’ve ever seen by a factor of two,” UAB Dr. Michael Saag said.

And as cases continue to climb, many in the medical field have highly recommended mask wearing while indoors and around large crowds of people.

“Masks work both to prevent you from getting illness and also from you to prevent spreading illness to others,” Dr. Wes Stubblefield with the Alabama Department of Public Health said.

But what mask offers the best protection? According to Dr. Saag, he says masks like N-95 and KN-95’s are still the best around.

“If both parties are wearing an N-95, it reduces their chance of exposure by about 25 hours,” Dr. Saag said.

Dr. Stubblefield says if a person can’t get one of those types of masks, a standard surgical mask also offers great protection.

“Then, kind of a step below that would be a cloth mask, preferably that’s more than two plied. So, two layers. And preferably one that’s three layers or more,” Dr. Stubblefield said.

Dr. Saag says cloth masks are still a good option, but aren’t as protective in preventing disease as previously thought. He also says bandanas and gators offer little to no protection.

“It might be good for skiing down a mountain top or something like that, but it ain’t going to stop much virus,” Dr. Saag said.

And while masking is still important, proper wear will ensure everyone is fully protected.

“What you don’t want is you don’t want a lot of gap around the sides of your face. You want it to be fit well. You know, you want it to be snug and covering your mouth and nose,” Dr. Stubblefield said.

Dr. Stubblefield also says wearing a paper-layered surgical mask on top of a cloth mask works pretty well, too. But experts continue to encourage people to get vaccinated since it’s considered the best protection against the virus.

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