Experts Say Government Masks May Be Arriving Too Late to Help COVID Surge

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President Joe Biden announced Wednesday his administration will begin shipping 400 million N95 masks for free to all Americans.

However, some doctors on the front lines of the COVID pandemic say those masks may be arriving too late to help with the omicron surge.

Dr. Monica Gandhi, UCSF Infectious Disease Specialist, said this should have been done back in November.

"If we had had them then, it would have been much easier," she said. "It would have helped us with this upsurge."

The masks will arrive as we may already be turning a corner in the battle with the omicron variant of COVID.

The number of people testing positive for COVID in California has now dropped 2.3% in the last seven days. In addition, the state's daily average of cases is down about 5,000 compared to Jan. 14.

"It does look like we're finally peaking in the Bay Area," Dr. Gandhi said.

While people with COVID are still heading into hospitals, Dr. Gandhi said that may not be the main reason they're there.

"About 40% to 67% of the people are hospitalized not for COVID but they are found to have COVID in the nose and test positive, but they are there for another reason," she explained.

The president of National Nurses United said she's thrilled more N95 masks will soon be available to the public, and because they'll be free and presumably easy to get, she anticipates more people will use them.

While people wait for those masks, Dr. Ghandi recommends wearing a surgical mask on the outside and a cloth mask on the inside.

"Research shows this double mask is as goof as an N95 at blocking the virus."

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