In most areas worldwide, mask mandates have been gradually lifted over the past year to the point where masking is no longer required. However, with the emergence of influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), we are now witnessing a ‘tripledemic’ in many countries.
While the term may be overly dramatic, the implications are not. So far, the 2022-23 flu season is looking to be the worst in a decade (in the U.S.), with more than 4500 deaths already reported. On top of this, COVID cases continue to climb going into the third COVID winter.
The CDC has now changed its earlier recommendations and actively encourages everyone to wear masks again. While the recommendation is vague, ‘wear a high quality, well-fitting mask’, this is a pivot on previous advice from the organisation.
While many still wear masks to protect from COVID-19, the same masks and respirators will protect against the flu and RSV. Therefore, wearing a high-filtration, well-fitting mask is as important as ever. If you are in doubt as to what the differences between masks are, you can read this article on the differences between the standards.
With these three illnesses spreading, will we likely see mask mandates reintroduced? On a larger scale, such as nationwide, probably not. However, we are already beginning to see masking requirements reappearing on a smaller scale.
For example, many schools, universities, and healthcare settings have brought back requirements for students and customers to mask. Los Angeles is also considering mandating masks across the city, and other cities are considering requiring masks on public transport.
While only time will tell what policies will be used, it’s important to take responsibility for our protection. If you are worried about catching any of the viruses mentioned above, wear a mask such as a KF94, N95 or KN95 whenever needed.