Additionally, COVID-19 cases and deaths have increased by 50% over the past week, although the rate has remained stable for a long time, according to the CDC.
With the rise continuing, health officials strongly recommend wearing a face mask in crowded indoor spaces to avoid both spreading and catching viruses.
The CDC continues to recommend mask-wearing for children and adults on public transportation, including trains, planes and buses.
“Good Morning America” spoke with Dr. Elizabeth Murray, mother of two and pediatric emergency physician at Golisano Children’s Hospital in Rochester, New York, to answer parents’ questions about wearing face masks again.
1. When and where should children wear face masks?
Children and adults should wear face masks when possible in indoor and crowded environments, according to Murray, who is also a spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics.
In the absence of mask mandates, Murray said families must make the best decisions for themselves, knowing that every family and every child is unique.
“It would be so awesome and so easy if we could just say, ‘You always do this’ or ‘You never do that’, and it’s really not at that point,” she said. “But as we head into the holidays and want to make sure we’re healthy to see our families, now is the time to really take those precautions.”
Murray gave the example of her own family, noting that her eldest daughter, 13, can decide on her own where and when a mask would be useful.
“She’s able, at her age, to kind of make decisions like ‘I’m part of a big group that works very closely with a group of people, so it’s a good time for me to wear a mask ‘, versus ‘I’m sitting in a study room with three other students and we’re all spaced out, so I probably don’t need to wear a mask at this point,’” Murray said. “She is also very active in a lot of extracurricular activities that are really important to her, so she is more comfortable wearing a mask during school or in large group activities because she wants to make sure she stay healthy so she can attend his meet and participate in his school play and things like that.”
On the other hand, Murray said her 6-year-old daughter struggled to wear a face mask at school, where it’s not required.
“We found that [wearing a mask] It’s really not something that we’ve been able to do with her because no one else is doing it,” Murray said. “So for her, we’re focusing on other things, like making sure that She washes her hands very well. At any sign of illness, we make sure to keep her home so she doesn’t spread the disease. And we do outdoor activities or other things with smaller groups of people where she doesn’t have as much exposure.”
2. Has wearing face masks during the COVID-19 pandemic caused the outbreak of disease now?
According to Murray, children’s immune systems have not been permanently damaged by wearing masks during the pandemic.
“The mask just helps reduce the transmission of many common diseases,” Murray said. “Now that people are not wearing masks, now that schools are back in an in-person setting and now that it’s fall and winter when we see some of these germs starting to show up, it’s logical that everything is back.”
She continued: “We had years where kids just didn’t see as much disease and now everyone is getting sick because all the germs are back at once.”
3. What type of face masks should children wear?
Murray recommends children wear “high quality” masks they feel comfortable in and will wear.
“There are different styles that can work just as well, so it’s important to make sure you have a mask your child likes and fits their face comfortably,” she said. “Sometimes it’s hard to find smaller masks, but there are some good resources out there.”
Experts say it’s good for children to use clips or bands to relieve pressure on their ears when wearing a mask.
One technique to check the quality of your child’s mask is to hold the mask facing the sun. If you can see light through the mask when you hold it taut, it’s not thick enough.
4. At what age can a child start wearing a face mask?
5. Do adults also have to wear face masks?
Yes, adults are also encouraged to wear face masks in crowded indoor environments. Murray said it’s especially important for parents and caregivers to wear masks in order to set an example for their children.
6. What else can parents do to protect their children against influenza, RSV and COVID-19?
Murray said it was essential that children and adults were up to date with their vaccinations.
Children 6 months and older are eligible to receive a flu shot as well as a COVID-19 vaccine, with “rare exceptions,” according to the CDC. Both vaccines are free and widely available at local doctors’ offices and pharmacies.
Murray said she also encourages her patients and others to stay home if they are sick and to keep their children home from school and activities if they show symptoms of illness.
“I think people have a lot of pressure to go back to work and all those things, but we still really have to make sure that whatever you’re sick of, when people are sick they have to stay home.” , she says.
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