Jesse Festa was on an Alaska Airlines flight at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport awaiting departure in Pascoe, Washington, when the flight attendant announced that wearing masks during the flight was no longer required.

“The reaction around me was a joy,” Festa, a travel blogger living in New York, wrote in an email. “Everyone started cheering up and taking off their masks.”

The 35-year-old Festa said she initially removed her own, “because the exciting feeling was almost contagious.” Then she put it on again.

Before the use of the mask became widespread on planes and elsewhere during the pandemic, Festa said, she was always ill after the flight – either getting a sinus infection or swollen lymph nodes. Ever since she started flying with the mask over her nose and mouth, Festa noticed that she had never been ill.

“The ability to enjoy travel without feeling bad is mostly outweighed by the slight discomfort of having tissue on your face,” Festa said. She plans to continue camouflage on future flights.

More reasons to keep this maskTravelers who think the same way after the abolition of the mandate have come up with something, said Infectious Diseases Expert Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of preventive medicine and infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee.

He said that proper and constant wearing of masks reduces the risk of transmission and infection with the virus that causes Covid-19, as well as other respiratory viruses, including colds and flu.

“Masks can both prevent the spread of viruses from me to you and protect me from you,” Schaffner said. This includes viruses that cause colds.

While the stories of people flying and catching a cold right after that are mostly jokes, Schaffner said it’s no wonder people catch a cold two days after sitting next to someone who coughed and sneezed on a plane. .

Wearing a mask “will reduce the number of colds as well as the flu and Covid viruses that we can pick up when we are indoors in any open space, in close proximity to other people,” he said.

58-year-old Bennett J. Wilson, who flies frequently, working on the travel website The Points Guy, a marked reduction in her allergies – in addition to fewer colds – will keep her camouflage on airplanes, among other public places, for the foreseeable future.

“I am allergic to dust and pollen. The airlines with fabric seats were especially allergic, ”she said. “I firmly believe that my N95 mask protected me from irritants in airplanes that would cause an allergy outbreak.”

Dr. Robert Murphy, Professor of Infectious Diseases and Executive Director of the Robert J. Institute of Global Health. Heavy, MD at Feinberg Medical School at Northwestern University, said “masks filter out many pathogens and allergens.”

In addition to helping protect against Covid-19, influenza and respiratory pathogens, masks can also help prevent the spread of viral pathogens such as rhinovirus, adenovirus and respiratory syncytial virus, Murphy said.

Should I continue to disguise on the ground?Jessica Cubis, a cancer survivor from St. Paul, Minnesota, with a compromised immune system, said she was sick every time she flew. “But I haven’t been since I wore a mask at the airport and on a plane,” Kubis said. “It was glorious.

The 43-year-old Kubis said she also attributes the improvement in overall health to the fact that she no longer works in an office setting when people come to work sick and carry illnesses around the office.

Kubis continues to hide in planes – and in the gym, in shops, on concert venues and in restaurants at his table – to protect himself and others.

People with weakened immune systems, as well as those with underlying diseases, as well as those living with someone vulnerable, “should choose a mask if they want to avoid the coronavirus,” CNN medical analyst Dr. Liana Wen said.

Aircraft are relatively low risk when it comes to Covid-19 transmission, due to the high degree of airflow and quality ventilation on board, except for boarding and disembarking when there is no good ventilation. But Wen is more concerned with buses and subways, which may not have good ventilation “and where masks are no longer needed.”

Some flight attendants are relievedFlight attendants from Philadelphia Rich Henderson and Andrew Kotlow from the blog Two Guys on a Plane felt “great relief” after the abolition of the mandate for the mask.

“Some of the worst interactions we’ve ever had with passengers have been the over-enforcement of mask policies,” Henderson told CNN. “It doesn’t matter how well you treat passengers regarding the mask policy, because there are people who come on board to fight.”

Their roles, Kotlov said, have shifted from “aviation security and travel to face mandates to masks.”

“Now that wearing a mask is a personal choice, that extra tension in the air has been relieved,” he said. Henderson and Kotlov said they would continue to disguise in flight: Henderson would wear a surgical mask and Kotlov would wear a KN95. (According to the CDC, N95 and KN95 masks provide more protection than tissue or surgical masks.)

“Before Covid, I usually caught a cold about twice a year,” Henderson said. “Wearing a mask didn’t make me sick, so I’m more than happy to continue wearing it, especially on airplanes.”

Moving forward in the new normal modeSean Harris, 39, a communications and events specialist in San Francisco, said that while the end of the mask term did not surprise him, he would like it to be different.

“It was necessary to inform the public in advance, with the possibility for those with reduced immunity, with unvaccinated children, etc., to re-book or cancel without any fines,” he wrote to CNN. “It shouldn’t have been done through a mid-flight software announcement.”

Harris has had fewer colds since disguising himself, but his decision to continue wearing the mask in crowded places and on his husband’s future flight to his native Germany is to protect himself and others.

“Given that we will be communicating with family, friends and the general public who already have diseases and other risk factors that make them more susceptible to Covid-19, we decided to wear masks on our upcoming trip,” – he said. said.

The absence of colds and other diseases has its benefits.“I think a lot of people want to keep hiding to reduce the chances of contracting various diseases,” Wen said. “Masking should be allowed, encouraged and recommended, especially for vulnerable people, but for those who want to continue to do so.”

Schaffner predicted that some people may turn again to camouflage in future winters and flu seasons now that they have a positive association with its effects.

“Masks are not completely protective. But people have found that they have been offered a certain level of protection and that they are not so stupid after all, ”he said. “They are cheap, easy to use and provide a certain level of protection.”

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