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Should you upgrade your masks, as Omicron continues to spread? Here's what a local health expert says

Masks should fit tightly around the mouth and nose, so there's no air leaks along the sides. Cloth masks, which are less tight-fitting, should be doubled up

FORT WORTH, Texas — At Mount Rose Baptist Church in Fort Worth, church officials were handing out masks to the community on Thursday.

As a shortage in masks supply sweeps across the country, pastors here are educating the public why it’s still so important to wear a mask.

Their efforts are appreciated by those in the medical community.

"Using a variety of masks last year, we were able to curtail the spread of the COVID 19 virus," said Dr. David Winter of Baylor Scott and White Health.

With omicron being far more transmissible than the other variants, though, many are starting to look for higher-grade N95 masks and KN95 masks to add to their collection.

"They both work very very well [but] they tend to be uncomfortable," Winter said.

Comfortable or no, both masks filter out at least 95 percent of small particles.

"The N95 is a little difficult," Winter said. "You have to put it over this way [over your head]. The KN95 is a little easier [although] you kind of look like a duck."

On Thursday, the Supreme Court blocked Biden’s virus mandate for large employers. The Bidden administration wanted to enforce a vaccine, or at least a testing mandate, for large employers. Many businesses argue that they are trying to recover from the pandemic and can’t afford to supply workers with tests or proper masks at work.

Given short supplies, many want to know if these masks can be reused.

"Let them dry out in a paper bag for a day or two," Winter suggested. "Then you can use them again."

And if you can’t get a hold an N95 or KN95 mask?

"These surgical masks, they did a lot of good last year," Winter said. "You can put two of these together, that works. The old cloth mask, if it’s a thin cloth mask, they don’t very well. So, double up on those."

Masks should fit very tightly around one's mouth and nose, so there is no leak around the side of the mask. That, Winter said, helps ensure the virus gets stuck on the outside of the mask.

“When you take it off, be careful," Winter said. "If you touch this [outside] part and don’t wash your hands, you can spread it."