Facebook Twitter

Should face mask guidances be ‘one-size-fits-all’ or something else?

An expert has an idea on how to fix the coronavirus face mask mandates

SHARE Should face mask guidances be ‘one-size-fits-all’ or something else?
E-scooter riders wear masks in downtown Salt Lake City.

E-scooter riders wear masks as they wait to cross Main Street in downtown Salt Lake City on Friday, April 9, 2021.

Steve Griffin, Deseret News

There have been some renewed calls for face masks amid the coronavirus pandemic, especially as the delta variant of the coronavirus continues to spread throughout the world.

But a one-size-fits-all approach to face mask policies may not be the right way to go, according to Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine.

Why are people wearing face masks again?

Just so we’re clear, there are a number of people who never stopped wearing face masks amid the pandemic. But plenty of entities have lifted restrictions after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said fully vaccinated people can ditch their masks in most settings.

Recently, public health officials across the world have called for a renewed use of face masks to stop the delta variant from spreading. For example, Los Angeles County asked people to wear face masks again in public spaces. The World Health Organization has also encouraged fully vaccinated people to start wearing masks again.

However, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the CDC, said on the “Today” show this week that people with compromised immunity and health issues may want to consider a mask. But the CDC has not changed anything about their mask policy thus far.

“Of course, as we have always said, if you have an immunocompromising condition, if you might have had a transplant and you’re vaccinated, everybody should consider their own situation if they would feel more comfortable wearing a mask,” she said.

Is the CDC wrong about face masks?

Hotez, of Baylor College, recently told CNN that the CDC might want to reconsider how to recommend wearing face masks in the future. Having a one-size-fits-all approach might not be the best method.

“Part of the problem is that the CDC is trying to use a one-size-fits-all recommendation for the country rather than being a bit more surgical in identifying hot spot areas where transmission is accelerating,” he told CNN.

Specifically, the CDC should suggest face mask use in pockets of the country where vaccination rates are low and delta variant cases are high, Hotez said.

“I think that’s what we need from the CDC is to be able to cut it a little finer, come up with ... a force of infection map that combines those two variables: the low vaccination rates, high delta. Those places are at great risk for lots of transmission, including some vaccinated individuals who will have breakthrough infections,” he said.