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People should upgrade their masks as omicron spreads

N95 masks are used both as dust masks and as medical equipment.
Don MacKinnon
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Getty Images
N95 masks offer the greatest level of protection.

As the omicron variant spreads, medical experts say people should consider upgrading their mask.

Illinois State Medical Society President Elect Clarence Brown said with the highly transmissible omicron variant taking hold, people should look at trading cloth masks for medical grade supplies for maximum protection.

"N95 masks are the gold standard. The medical grade masks are a close second, the cloth masks are a really good attempt, and all of them are better than not wearing a mask," he said.

Brown said the initial recommendation for cloth masks was made to help conserve supplies for healthcare providers. But now that supply shortages are easing, he said people should think about changing the way they mask.

The CDC recommends everyone wear a mask in indoor settings or in areas of high community transmission, regardless of vaccination status.

Steph Whiteside is a Digital Media News Specialist with WSIU radio in Carbondale, Ill. She previously worked as a general reporter at AJ+ and Current TV.