September 24 2021 03:30 pm

Health experts urge attendees to wear masks as the high school football season kicks off

Final Quarter

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) – The long-awaited start of the high school football season has run into unanticipated events, with poor air quality brought on by nearby wildfires already causing the postponement of several games in the Sacramento region.

Friday’s air quality in areas of the valley is better than it was Thursday, but those with previous breathing and heart problems are still at risk. 

Sacramento Bee reporter Joe Davidson maintained a running list of games canceled or postponed because of smoke or virus concerns on Friday.

Being at a game Friday night is still worrisome for everyone else. 

“We have to worry about things like headaches, just not feeling well, getting fatigued,” said Dr. Vanessa Walker with Sutter Health Systems. “Symptoms that are kind of scary right now, scratchy throat, watery eyes. Things like, ‘Is this COVID or is it wildfire exposure?'”

A mask for COVID-19 won’t work for fine smoke particles; an N95 mask is more effective. 

Those who are masking up to protect themselves against smoke and poor air quality will also be protecting themselves from COVID-19, but there will be the temptation to remove their masks as they cheer on their team or favorite player. 

Recently, 200 people contracted COVID-19 at an outdoor concert in Washington State. Vaccinations did prove effective in stopping the spread. 

“If you can feel someone’s saliva, if you can smell their breath, you are inhaling droplets from their nose and throat,” said Multnomah County Health Officer Dr. Jennifer Vines. “If you find yourself in that situation, you should mask regardless of your vaccine status.”

While social distancing may still be encouraged at games, studies have shown the louder someone yells, the farther aerosol droplets can travel. 

“People are going to take their masks off, that’s a concerning situation,” Dr. Walker told FOX40. “I would not put myself in that situation. But if you are going to do that, wearing an N95 mask will help. And encouraging anyone who is there, please wear a mask if you’re going to be in large groups, even if you’re vaccinated.”

Medical experts say such precautions can be a game-changer. 

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