What the new coronavirus variant means for masking

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – A new, more contagious variant of COVID-19 from the UK is now spreading across the US and is expected to become the dominant strain of the virus by March. What many are wondering is if the current masking guidelines are enough to protect from this new variant.

According to Dr. William Schaffner, Professor of Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt, protecting yourself from these new variants of the coronavirus doesn’t require anything new when it comes to masking.

“The important thing is to wear a mask, social distance, and hygiene, avoid groups,” Dr. Schaffner said. “Yes. This variant is more contagious. But we can slow it down if we do all those things. And then, of course, when it’s our turn to get vaccinated, show up and roll up your sleeve.”

Double masking is also an option. The more layers, the better, but Dr. Schaffner recommends balancing comfort with effectiveness. 

“Well, double masking, you put on one and then you put on another, it’s possible that that will give you more protection. It’s possible. It also likely will make the work breathing a little harder because you’re breathing through more material. And I think you need to be just aware of that if you choose to do it.”

Also, be prepared to keep wearing your masks for a while.

“We’re going to be wearing masks for quite some time because it will take both wearing the mask and getting the vaccine to turn this epidemic down, to flatten the curve, to reduce the transmission of this virus. So we all ought to think about doing that together, working together for our own personal benefit, but also the benefit of people around us.”

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