Dr. Anthony Fauci and other public health experts are recommending double masking when we’re in public.
Reviewing the COVID statistics of the US today was upsetting, despite knowing vaccines for the virus are slowly being administered to healthcare workers, some frontline workers, and the most vulnerable in the nation. The US has surpassed 26 million cases of COVID-19 and more than 440,000 Americans have died from the virus.
With the vaccines on order and the Biden Administration working to finalize the purchase of an additional 200 million doses, it seemed as though the end of the pandemic was approaching by the end of the summer. Unfortunately, that end may be in doubt. Three COVID variants are circulating globally, including in the US. They are the B.1.1.7 (United Kingdom), B.1.351 (South Africa), and P.1 (Brazil). Each of the variants appears to be more transmissible than the original highly contagious virus.
It appears as though the current COVID vaccines aren’t as effective against the COVID variants.
The variants have another potential problem that scientists are researching. It already seems as though the current vaccines for COVID aren’t as effective against at least one or two of the variants, compared to the original virus.
Travel continues during the pandemic, despite its hazards. Many middle seats are now filled on commercial airliners as the airlines seek to dramatically slow their massive losses. On many buses and trains, in airports and stations, it’s the same. Social distancing often doesn’t exist.
Travelers must take active measures to protect themselves while on the go, in planes, airports, trains, stations, buses, hotels, shops, stores, etc.
Travelers should follow all the CDC COVID guidelines.
To start, while traveling, we need to continue to follow the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). We need to continue to wear masks, socially distance, avoid crowds and poorly ventilated spaces, plus wash our hands often whenever we’ve been in public.
There is another CDC recommendation.
“Travel can increase your chance of spreading and getting COVID-19. Postponing travel and staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.”
While some travel continues to be essential, I agree with the CDC. We should all postpone all non-essential travel.
Unfortunately, while traveling, we are often confronted with difficult health and safety situations. Too often we’re unable to socially distance. We can’t avoid crowds and poorly ventilated spaces. Airports are often crowded at TSA security checkpoints and gates. Passengers in lines at train stations, particularly on train platforms, don’t social distance. In order to eat on the go, sometimes it’s difficult to avoid poorly ventilated spaces, particularly in winter.
Social distancing and other CDC COVID recommendations can be difficult to follow while traveling, making good hand hygiene even more important.
We can still use good hand hygiene. We can keep hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol in our bags for use when we can’t wash our hands. TSA permits passengers to have a 12-ounce container of hand sanitizer in their carry-on. Passengers in other modes of transportation can also keep it in their bags. I’ve been bringing hand sanitizer with me when traveling for years, for times when I can’t hand wash. Washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds after you’ve been in a public place is preferable because it’s more effective than using a hand sanitizer, according to the CDC.
Studies are clear that face masks are effective in preventing the transmission of COVID-19.
There is no doubt that face masks are effective in preventing transmission of COVID-19. Studies such as one by scientists at Duke University, published in the prestigious Science Advances, show they are effective. The Duke study also ranked the various kinds of masks. They found that fitted N95 masks and 3–layer surgical masks, followed by multi-layer cotton-polypropylene-cotton masks, all valveless, were the most effective. Unsurprisingly, they found that the least effective masks were gaiter neck fleeces, bandannas and knitted masks.
From such studies, the inescapable conclusion is that wearing a mask in public during the pandemic is essential. Currently, in the US and other nations, it’s often mandatory. The CDC has recommended for a long time that everyone two years of age and older should wear a mask in public during the COVID pandemic. The CDC’s recommendation doesn’t differentiate whether we’re in public outside or inside.
Dr. Fauci believes that with three COVID variants circulating in the US, double masking makes commonsense.
With the three COVID variants circulating in the US, discussing whether or not Americans should masks more effectively by “double masking,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Biden’s Chief Medical Advisor said, “It just makes commonsense that it would be more effective.”
Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, and Virginia Tech found that wearing a surgical mask (N95 would be equally or more effective) underneath a cloth mask provides maximal protection. The surgical or N95 mask acts as a filter and the cloth adds an additional layer that also aids the surgical or N95 mask to fit well.
It’s clear that social distancing and handwashing, plus avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces during the COVID pandemic, is not enough to keep travelers and those with whom they have contact, safe. With COVID variants that have increased transmissibility in circulation, whenever in public, inside or outside, whether mandatory or not, travelers should not only wear top quality masks, but should double mask as well.
After many years working in corporate America as a chemical engineer, executive and eventually CFO of a multinational manufacturer, Ned founded a tech consulting company and later restarted NSL Photography, his photography business. As a well known corporate, travel and wildlife photographer, Ned travels the world writing about travel and photography, as well as running photography workshops, seminars and photowalks. Visit Ned’s Photography Blog and Galleries.