What do the infectious disease experts wear at work and at home?

by David Rosow

With all the confusion about what to wear, you can find reassurance that these infectious doctors and experts chose to wear surgical masks. The emphasis inserted is ours.

Excerpts from Healio's Infectious Disease segment from January 21, 2022: 

Keith S. Kaye, MD, MPH, Infectious Disease News Editorial Board Member, chief of allergy, immunology and infectious disease at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School: I use a surgical face mask standard hospital grade. For suspected or possible COVID, I wear an N95 and surgical mask on top.
Kenneth M. Kaye, MD, Infectious Disease News Editorial Board Member, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and senior physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital: Standard surgical masks are what we use at work and when needed in my personal life. I have not made any changes since the emergence of the omicron variant.

Gitanjali Pai, MD, Infectious Disease News Editorial Board Member, chief medical officer for the Oklahoma State Department of Health: I wear an N95 when needed, but otherwise I have been using a surgical mask and, at times, use multiple layers. The recent guidance has solidified my stance on masks. As we have now known from the beginning of the pandemic, any mask is better than no mask, but the fit and comfort of the mask are also equally important and perhaps even more important than its permeability. A higher grade mask that is not very well tolerated will not be used consistently, rendering it ineffective, and may actually cause harm by giving people a false sense of confidence that they’re being protected.

Amit Sharma, MD, infectious disease specialist at Geisinger Community Medical Center: I usually wear a level 3 surgical mask at work. For grocery shopping trips, I wear a cloth mask that has three layers at least. Cloth masks can be washed daily, and above all, they give me an opportunity to do “hand-washing with soap and water.” With respect to the omicron variant, I would not really change my choice of the masks, but I will ensure that I am mindful of avoiding closed and crowded spaces. I may consider the KN95 for grocery shopping, depending upon the situation.

Raghavendra Tirupathi, MD, FACP, Infectious Disease News Editorial Board Member, medical director for Keystone Infectious Diseases/HIV, medical director of infection prevention for WellSpan Chambersburg & WellSpan Waynesboro Hospitals, and clinical assistant professor of medicine at Penn State University School of Medicine: I also incorporate graded decision-making with respect to the choice of masks, depending on the situation I meant. I would use a 3M N95 surgical respirator mask while in the hospital and especially while in COVID-19-positive patient rooms. Everywhere else, I am using a grade 3 surgical mask at this time. Avoiding crowded places and social distancing while indoors are also paramount, in addition to adequate masking.