Midstate doctors suggest reconsidering face mask options

Coronavirus in Pennsylvania

LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM) — As the highly contagious Omicron variant continues spreading throughout Lancaster County and the Midstate, some local doctors say it’s time to reconsider your face mask options.

“It’s almost as transmissible as chickenpox and if you think about it one person could be spreading covid to ten others,” said Dr. Michael Ripchinski, Chief Medical Information Officer at Lancaster General Health.

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Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health has new guidance inside its hospital doors: only medical-grade masks allowed. 

“We need to protect our patients and our employees from getting Covid-19 and having a tightly fitted mask around your face prevents the spread,” Dr. Ripchinski said.

While more and more places across the country are shifting to it, Dr. Goldman from UPMC says “a cloth mask is better than no mask at all.”

Compared to early in the pandemic,  surgical masks are now easier to find.  abc27 News checked places CVS but availability is a hit or miss, depending on the location.  

While these surgical masks do offer more protection, Dr. Ripchinski says, “an N95 mask or KN95 and the reason for those other two masks is really because they’re so tightly fitted.”  

But they are a little harder to find, so when looking online, expect shipping delays and potentially hefty prices.

Unlike cloth masks, which you can wash and reuse over and over again, you’ll only be able to use a medical-grade mask a couple of times before having to throw it out.

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