CNN – Months after most mask requirements have come to an end and many people have stopped wearing them, some of the nation’s leading health experts are encouraging people to put their face masks back on – but this time, it’s not just because of Covid-19.
As a triple threat of respiratory illnesses – flu, RSV and Covid-19 – sweeps the nation this holiday season, health officials are urging people to take precautions to protect themselves:
get vaccinated, wash hands frequently and even mask up in certain circumstances.
Dr. William Schaffner, a professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and medical director of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, said:
“There’s been a lot of attention directed to patients at higher risk of the complications of all of these illnesses – older persons, people who have any underlying illness, anyone who has immune compromise – I think, during this surge of this tridemic, if you will, there’s been a lot of ‘dust off your mask. Put your mask back on,’ ”
At this phase in the Covid-19 pandemic, even with other types of respiratory viruses circulating, masking recommendations based on an individual’s risk have been at the center of public health discussions, “rather than saying everyone in a community has got to put their masks back on,” Schaffner said:
“I don’t want to go to mandates because I think over much of the United States, you will get a lot of pushback, and people will ignore it. Public health recommendations have to be acceptable.”
“The notion that during these kinds of viral surges, that people at risk should be wearing masks and being more cautious seems entirely reasonable – and I add to that, particularly in this part of the country, that we should be accepting, tolerant and indeed supporting people who do that, because they have a reason.”
“Don’t look at this as a political statement or a social statement. This is a purely health-related statement .. ”