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DPH advises residents on masks and testing as Omicron is dominant COVID variant in Delaware

A KN95 mask and a surgical mask.
Photo illustration by Max Posner/NPR
A KN95 mask and a surgical mask.

With Omicron more prevalent in Delaware now, and overall COVID numbers and hospitalizations rising, the state has specific advice on masks and testing.

As cases rise, the state wants people with symptoms to get tested - or if exposed to COVID - test about five days after exposure - especially those not vaccinated or at high risk.

And Delaware Director of Division of Public Health Dr. Karyl Rattay notes rapid tests aren’t necessary for everyone.

"Those who should especially seek a rapid test include those with symptoms especially those at high risk, but also children who are needing to return to school," said Rattay.

As of December 20, 78 percent of sequenced cases were Omicron, and 22 percent were the Delta variant.

Because of that, the type of mask you wear is important according to Rattay.

"Cloth masks can work, but they need to be multiple layers and they need to fit snugly around the face and same with surgical masks," said Rattay. "So again you can wear them, but you want to make sure they fit snugly and also that they have multiple layers. Many people are wearing the surgical mask with a cloth mask over them and that can work very well."

Rattay notes the KN-95 masks also work well, but the importance with any mask is to make sure it’s snug around your nose and mouth.

"In addition to having multiple layers it's important that you wear masks that fits snugly around the nose and the mouth. A well-fitting mask does not allow for gaps around the nose or the side of the face. You should wear a mask that has a wire strip at the nose so you can shape it to your nose. So this is really important that you don't have gaps around the side of your face," said Rattay.

If you test positive, Rattay says not to wait for a call contact tracer as they’re backlogged. She adds to take charge of reaching out to close contacts, and you should tell them to quarantine based on CDC guidance as well as testing five days after their last exposure to you.

Joe brings over 20 years of experience in news and radio to Delaware Public Media and the All Things Considered host position. He joined DPM in November 2019 as a reporter and fill-in ATC host after six years as a reporter and anchor at commercial radio stations in New Castle and Sussex Counties.