Last Wednesday, Louisiana’s governor reinstated our mask mandate for all people age five and older.
With hospitals straining under the load of COVID-19 cases during the fourth surge of this deadly disease in Louisiana, the governor’s mandate came as no surprise.
Of particular concern is the high transmissibility of the Delta variant of COVID-19 and its ability to sicken and, in some cases, kill children and young adults.
Here’s what you need to know
How much more contagious is the Delta variant?
The Delta variant is a mean strain of COVID-19 that’s spreading 50% faster than the Alpha variant, which was already 50% more contagious than the original strain of SARS-CoV-2.
CDC representative Dr. Walensky noted this variant as, “One of the most infectious respiratory viruses we know of, and that I have seen in my 20-year career.”
To put this into perspective, the CDC noted that in late June, our 7-day moving average of reported cases was roughly 12,000. Just a month later, on July 27, this average exceeded 60,000. These numbers are approaching some of the highest we’ve seen so far.
Is the Delta variant more deadly?
Not only is this variant more transmissible than previous strains, but it’s also more dangerous. The CDC references a study conducted in Scotland and Canada revealing that patients with the Delta variant were more likely to be hospitalized with serious symptoms than previous strains. With hospitals reaching their full capacity again, we’re starting to see this pattern reflected in our country as well.
How does it affect children?
COVID-19 in children hasn’t been a major concern until the Delta variant hit. With this strain, more intense pediatric cases with higher transmissibility are popping up.
Because kids under 12 years of age aren’t eligible for the vaccine just yet, it’s especially important to mask up around children and require masks in schools. This article gives great insight into the devastation that hospitals are experiencing right now in terms of pediatric cases.
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What mask works best against the Delta variant?
Mask mandates are popping up again all over the country as the CDC changes their guidance to state that everyone (including vaccinated people) should mask up against this variant.
While the virus has mutated, it is not “more airborne” or “more permeable” to masks than previous ones. Experts like Maureen Miller, former epidemiologist for the New York City Health Department, state that we can continue wearing the same masks we’ve been wearing.
While N95s are still the gold-standard for masks, high demand and increased price make cloth face masks ideal for the general public. We just need to wear them properly–covering mouth AND nose.
Double-masking is also a good strategy–especially if you’re not vaccinated.
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