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Where You Should Still Wear A Mask—And Why

Posted on September 29, 2022 by Henry Ford Health Staff

We’ve never been in a better position to end the COVID-19 pandemic. While we’re not there yet, the end is in sight, says Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO).

In order to cross the finish line, it’s important to stay up-to-date with your COVID-19 vaccinations and be vigilant of when and where you should wear a mask. 

“We know people are tired of the pandemic and its restrictions,” says Dennis Cunningham, M.D., medical director of infection control and prevention at Henry Ford Health. “It’s been a long time—we get it. But by staying conscientious through this last push, it could mean more people are protected and more lives are saved—and that the pandemic is over that much sooner.”  

While masking has largely gone out of public favor, there are places where it’s still very important to wear one. Here, Dr. Cunningham shares when you should wear a mask—and why.   

  1. In healthcare facilities. Federal and state regulations require masks in healthcare settings. “Patients in healthcare settings are often the most vulnerable to disease and infection,” says Dr. Cunningham. “Whether you’re coming into the hospital ill as a patient, or visiting someone who is in the hospital, it’s important to limit the spread of disease to keep everyone safe. As long as cases of COVID-19 are still circulating at higher levels, healthcare facilities will require that everyone wear a mask. It’s for your protection and the protection of our patients and staff.” 
  2. At school. Many schools no longer require masks, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider it—especially since a recent study found that school was the biggest source of COVID-19 transmission. If your child is wearing a mask to school, give them guidance on how to deal with questions or peer pressure. You can tell them they wear a mask to protect themselves and others who may be more vulnerable to COVID-19. While it can be difficult—especially at a young age—give them the tools to advocate for themselves.  
  3. On public transit. Whether you’re on a long bus ride or waiting to catch a flight at the airport, sitting in areas with lots of people—often with poor ventilation, and for long periods of time—can increase your risk of contracting COVID-19. Wearing a mask in these settings will reduce the likelihood of contracting COVID-19 and will help keep others around you safe, too. 
  4. During concerts. It’s no surprise that singing and interacting with others in a crowd can increase the likelihood of contracting COVID-19. Many people have been excited to go to concerts once again, but it’s a good idea to wear a mask, especially if it’s an indoor venue.  
  5. When around those who are more vulnerable to COVID-19. Those who have weakened immune systems—whether due to cancer treatment or an underlying health condition—can’t fight off infection as well as those who have healthy immune systems. For this reason, they’re at a higher risk of contracting a severe case of COVID-19. Wearing a mask (and ensuring you’re vaccinated) before seeing anyone with a weakened immune system will help keep them protected. 

If you yourself are immunocompromised, you likely know that wearing a mask in public is important to protect yourself from disease. If you have any questions, and for individual advice, don’t hesitate to reach out to your doctor. 

"In general, I would urge everyone to use their best judgement as to when they should wear a mask," says Dr. Cunningham. "As we head into the colder months, it will be even more important to wear a mask, as we'll be in more confined spaces with others."

Henry Ford Health is offering the Pfizer bivalent booster to established patients. Appointments can be made via MyChart. For COVID-19 vaccine updates, visit henryford.com/coronavirus/vaccine-faqs

Dr. Dennis Cunningham is the medical director of infection control and prevention at Henry Ford Health.  

Categories : FeelWell

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