By CBSLA Staff

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — As COVID- 19 cases surge and as the highly contagious Omicron variant becomes more prevalent in Los Angeles County the great mask debate has sparked once again.

“I’ve actually switched to surgical masks as of the last three months,” said infectious disease specialist Dr. Monica Gandhi.

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Gandhi has been at the front lines since the beginning of the pandemic, helping combat the rising cases. She recently decided to change up her mask strategy amid this recent winter surge. Gandhi points out that research indicates that medical-grade paper masks have a distinct advantage over cloth masks.

“Surgical masks are made of polypropylene material,” she said. “They’re made out that because a weave of polypropylene is negatively charged.”

Since both the polypropylene material and viruses are negatively charged they repel each other like magnets.

“What polypropylene will do is make the virus bounce off it because it doesn’t like the negative charge,” she added.

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Surgical-grade medical masks are also somewhat reuseable contrary to popular belief, according to Gandi.

“You can probably wear a surgical mask up to three days,” she said. “Especially in the beginning, we did this in the hospital.”

According to Gandi, the masks can be sterilized by quickly tossing it in the microwave. However, be wary of leaving the medical masks in the sun as the sunlight may break down the polypropylene material. Gandi recommends leaving masks in a glove compartment when in your car.

“In general, anything that’s sold on Amazon,” those 100 or 500 surgical masks are really tested and they’re made out of genuine polypropylene material,” said Gandhi referring to which masks consumers should buy online.

Regardless of which material you use make sure that the mask fits snug to the user to ensure a good seal.

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