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Health officials recommending everyone wear masks in solidarity

Published: Jul. 24, 2021 at 10:45 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - With the rapid increase in Covid-19 cases across the state, Jefferson County health officials are urging the unvaccinated to continue wearing masks in large groups. But UAB Infectious disease expert Dr. Michael Saag said there is benefit to everyone wearing a mask again, even those who are vaccinated.

If everyone wore their mask, it is much safer,” Saag said. “To be honest, I think all of us, almost in solidarity, if we are in a large crowd, we should be wearing a mask just to encourage others to protect each other.”

He said unvaccinated people are the most at risk from the Delta variant and it’s critical to wear a mask.

“If someone is infected and they don’t know it, normally they are spewing large amounts of virus into the environment around them, into the cloud that surrounds them,” Saag said. “When they are wearing a mask, that cloud is reduced by 90 plus percent.”

Saag said virus particles can spread up to 10 feet in some situations. The vaccine doesn’t guarantee you won’t catch the virus, but Saag said it does provide less severe illness and symptoms.

“For Delta, perhaps 65 to 70% are completely protected, but for 30% of vaccinated people, those individuals, even if vaccinated, thirty percent will develop symptoms,” Saag said. “When they do develop symptoms, the duration of symptoms are going to be much shorter and of less intensity. So, they are going to be in a better place.”

Dr. Saag said masking helped slow the first Covid-19 surge and it could help slow the Delta surge.

“If all of us our wearing a mask, at any kind of event, let’s say a sporting event, then we are not only protecting ourselves to some degree, but we are really protecting the people around us. Wear a mask again. Stay away from a large crowd. Go get vaccinated now while you have a chance.”

Dr. Saag said those with weaker or compromised immune systems and unvaccinated children should also be wearing a mask when in a large crowd or out in public. He said the are some of the most at risk groups.

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