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Health experts say it's still a good idea to wear masks on public transportation

The lifting of mask mandates on public transportation is leaving some travelers excited and others a bit leery.

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Nearly a week after a Florida judge overturned the federal mask mandate for planes, trains, and buses, travelers now have the option to mask up on public transportation.

Dr. Christopher Ohl is an infectious disease expert with Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist.

He said public transportation can increase the risk of COVID-19 transmission but said wearing a mask even if other travelers decide not to can still offer major protection against the virus, especially if they wear an N-95 mask.

“A surgical mask doesn't quite filter out as much, it probably gives somewhere between 60 to 70 percent,” Dr. Ohl said. “A cloth mask is going to depend on what kind of cloth mask it is or how good it is. The best cloth masks out there are at least two-ply with a high thread count. Those do a pretty good job, but not as well as a surgical or N-95 mask."

He said deciding when to wear a mask while traveling comes down to common sense. 

“When you're in that crowded gate waiting to board and people are shouldering themselves in, I'd keep it on,” Dr. Ohl said. “So, keep your mask in your purse or your back pocket. Use it when you need it and take it off when you don't."

Dr. Ohl said the smaller the vehicle, the higher the risk for virus transmission.

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