Major cities and states push for indoor masking amid surge of three respiratory viruses in the US

Visual Representation | Credits: Shutterstock
Visual Representation | Credits: Shutterstock

United States: During the simultaneous spread of three highly transmittable respiratory viruses across America that stretched hospitals to their limits and resulted in a shortage of medical resources, representatives from many major cities and states encouraged reinstating indoor masking.

In the past couple of weeks, many Americans have fallen sick with COVID-19 and influenza, as well as RSV.

According to health commissioner Dr Ashwin Vasan in a news release announcing the recommendation, this advice means wearing face coverings inside stores and public transportation, including schools as well childcare facilities- or other congested public areas, according to HealthDay News.

Vasan was quoted saying, “The holiday season is about togetherness, and there is a way to gather safely – even as respiratory viruses in our city are unusually high.”

He continued, “It starts with protecting yourself. Vaccination and boosters are critical, but so are common sense precautions like masking when indoors or among crowds and staying home if you don’t feel well.”

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Furthermore, Public Health Director of Los Angeles County – Dr Barbara Ferrer appealed to the general public to wear face masks. She also mentioned that the health authorities should reinstate mask mandates if the cases and hospitalizations continue to surge.

According to HealthDay News, Ferrer was further quoted saying, “Our shared goal during this pandemic has always been to reduce the burden of disease, hospitalization, and death, and we all know it takes a community to do so.”

He added, “When you put on your mask for these few weeks during this surge, it is about the people of LA County. It is about every individual, every visitor, our healthcare workers, essential workers, and other people who serve. In addition to vaccination, it is one of the easiest things everyone can do right now.”

On the other hand, health regulators in Washington and Oregon have called for similar measures. However, 25 hospital executives and 12 county health officers in Washington state have reportedly asked their residents to wear masks indoors, as per NPR. Similarly, the Oregon Health Authority has recommended that kids and elderly people should be protected by wearing masks in crowded indoor areas.

The state epidemiologist – Dr. Dean Sidelinger, stated, “The combination of surging flu, RSV, and COVID-19 cases is pushing hospitals past their current ICU bed capacity, which never happened during the darkest days of the COVID-19 pandemic in Oregon.” The statement was shared during a media briefing, as per reports by NPR.

Visual Representation for respiratory illness

Dr Rochelle Walensky, Director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has noted an increase in “high” infection rates in various areas around the country, NPR further reported.

“To protect communities in those circumstances at those high levels, we have recommended and continue to recommend that those communities wear masks,” Walensky said.

According to the CDC, people in areas of high risk for COVID should use masks indoors. Currently, this includes approximately 9 percent of the counties in the United States.

In Hawaii, Maine, and New Hampshire, there are consistently low COVID levels in the community. Moreover, its levels are low in Washington. However, in all other states, there is at least one county with high COVID levels, according to reporting by NPR.