by Gary M. Trager, MD, FACP
The following is Gary’s response to Jeanne Lewin’s concern about the new COVID sub-variant and the inside close-quarters group with the Challah Bake Sunday July 17, 2022. Please read and decide whether to wear a mask inside when participating in a group.
Good morning. I will try to help you decide on a course of action.
First, masking is never wrong or unhealthy to do though it can be uncomfortable, of course. Wearing masks in the kitchen is not wrong.
Sitting in the social hall, spaced apart and unmasked is acceptable as it is not much different than attending Saturday morning services.
Not masking in the kitchen would be reasonable IF all of the participants were well known to each other AND have each had at least 4 mRNA (or 2 J & J shots and 1 mRNA booster) AND have been together often in the past weeks (members of the same "pod"). I would think that this would not be the case, however.
A possible option to remain mask free in the kitchen would be to require that all participants be fully vaccinated and boosted (as above) and have a negative rapid COVID test on the morning of the event.
Finally, remember that cloth and surgical masks do very little to prevent the omicron strain and its sub-variants and should not be considered useful. Only N95 and KN95 masks are useful.