As COVID-19 cases surge, local doctors say cloth masks aren’t enough protection against omicron

ATLANTA — As COVID-19 cases continue to surge across Georgia, local health officials are now telling people that they need to step up their mask protection.

Just one person sick with the omicron variant can potentially infect between 20 and 50 other people.

We’ve heard just how contagious the omicron variant of COVID-19 is … just one sick person can infect between 20 and 50 others.

“I’m shocked how many fully vaccinated, boosted individuals are coming back positive. I’m absolutely shocked,” said Dr. Cecil Bennett with Newnan Family Medicine.

Bennett told Channel 2′s Wendy Corona that weeks ago, omicron made up barely 10% of COVID-19 cases. It’s now the majority.

He believes counting on the vaccine and cloth or surgical masks has provided a false sense of security with this variant.

Bennett gave this example about what he was talking about:

Six people are in a room. Five are wearing cloth masks. The sixth has the omicron variant of COVID-19. You think you’re doing the right thing by wearing a mask, but …

“Pretty much everyone in the room is going to get omicron. That mask will not protect you,” Bennett said.

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He said there is one mask that will provide protection and urges everyone to step up their mask protection through this COVID-19 surge.

“A KN95 mask protects you from giving COVID to someone and protects someone from giving COVID to you,” Bennett said.

You can buy the masks online. They’re in demand and not cheap, but in Bennett’s opinion, it’s worth it for the protection.

“When I see people wearing 2,3,4,5 cloth masks I just shake my head,” Bennett said.

He recommends adults and children use the KN95 mask, calling it the only proper mask to deal with omicron.

“It gives us a better chance of getting through this surge without having any more people become hospitalized,” Bennett said.

What’s the difference with the KN95 masks? It’s in the level of filtration the masks provide.

Bennett said even by using cloth masks right now, you open yourself up to risk of getting omicron, which is why we are seeing such an alarming rate and increase in infection in both unvaccinated and vaccinated people.

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