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As New COVID-19 Strains Pop Up, Some Stress Wearing Double Masks, Taking Vaccine As Soon As It's Offered

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — As new strains of COVID-19 are discovered, some are stressing increased measures to stop the spread.

Some people have begun to wear two masks for double protection. Experts say that's not a bad idea, certainly in more crowded spaces-- and as doctors believe the new COVID-19 variants make the virus more contagious.

"All of these mutations do not give the virus any magical properties," said Dr. Gigi Gronvall.

Dr. Gronvall of the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health said all the barriers and guidelines-- such as social distancing and masks-- still work in combating whatever strain.

"Just doing the things we know to do, but do it better," Dr. Gronvall said.

For face covering, more layers give more protection, and sometimes that means wearing multiple masks.

"So two or three layers are better than one. The idea is to create some kind of obstacle course that helps block the virus," said Dr. Jon LaPook.

British investigators warned initial data shows the new variant could be more deadly. That data, doctors stress, is preliminary.

"I would advise your viewers not to get worried about this. It's very preliminary and it hasn't really been studied yet," said Dr. Ron Elfenbein, medical director at First Call Medical Center.

Encouraging news came Monday, as Moderna announced its vaccine is effective against the two new variants. The drug's response against the South African variant was less but still effective.

"Some people say, 'I don't know if I want to take this vaccine because there are variants. I'll wait for the next one.' Don't wait for the next one. Get the vaccine if you're offered it," Dr. Gronvall said.

Viruses mutate, so epidemiologists are not surprised new variants of COVID-19 are popping up. President Joe Biden is expected to reimpose a travel ban from dozens of countries, some where variants have been discovered.

For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department's website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ's coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.

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