‘You Can Protect Yourself’: Zeke Emanuel Tells MSNBC Viewers To Mask Up As New COVID Strain Spreads ‘Very Rapidly’


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A MSNBC guest told viewers Monday that the best way to prevent infection from a new strain of COVID-19 was to use masks, and characterized travel bans as a “delaying” tactic that won’t “help.”

“A travel ban isn’t going to end, the negative test results are just going to — they’re delaying tactics. They’re trying to give us information. They’re not going to help,” Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel told MSNBC host Andrea Mitchell. “Individually for your viewers, Andrea, the best thing they can do at the moment, and I know a lot of them are resistant, is masks, N95 really high-quality masks.” (RELATED: MSNBC Host ‘Shocked And Appalled’ Her Kids Passed On COVID Boosters)

Cases of a new subvariant of COVID-19 known as XBB. 1.5 emerged in the northeastern United States in December, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported. A little more than 40% of all COVID cases from Dec. 25 to Dec. 31 were of the XBB subvariant, according to CDC data.

“XBB. 1.5 is spreading very rapidly, which means it can evade and outcompete the other subvariants. It seems to avoid the antibodies, but also bind more tightly to cells and that gives it the competitive advantage it needs, and unfortunately, the antibodies therefore we have from infection or vaccines don’t seem to work,” Emanuel said. “And the monoclonal antibody shield we have that a lot of immunocompromised patients don’t use, doesn’t seem to be working that well. So it is a great concern and the fact that it’s spreading at this moment when people have been traveling, and therefore we’re going to see another surge going forward, we can be pretty confident of that.”


A study released in July found that wearing masks made “no significant difference” in two North Dakota school districts, one of which had a mask mandate, while another did not. The authors of the study concluded “mask mandates have limited to no impact.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci, who retired as director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) in December, made contradictory statements about wearing masks during the COVID-19 pandemic, varying between saying wearing masks was not necessary, or at various times suggesting people wear masks. Fauci, at one point, recommended wearing two masks.

“You can’t control what’s out there in the airports, or what’s on a train, or what’s going to be in a shopping mall, but you can protect yourself with these very high-quality masks,” Emanuel, the brother of former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, said.

School districts in several states announced mask mandates in December, citing a potential “tripledemic” caused by Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV), the flu and COVID-19, which could strain hospitals across the country.

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