NEW YORK ( Associated Press) — Is it better to wear an N95 or cloth mask now?
Health experts suggest increasing protection against the highly infectious Omikron variant with stronger masks such as N95s or KN95s.
This is especially important now because the health care system is under stress, and with people in high-risk situations such as crowded, indoor settings for extended periods, says Lynsey Marr, who studies the virus at Virginia Tech.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently updated its guidance to recommend the types of masks used by health care workers, but also noted that it is important to choose a mask that fits well. Yes and the one you will wear continuously.
“Our main message is that any mask is better than no mask,” CDC spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund said in a statement.
Earlier, the CDC said that N95 masks should be reserved for health care workers due to a lack of supplies. There is a special class of “surgical N95” masks not generally available for sale to the public that the CDC says should be reserved for health care settings.
N95s fit more on your face than cloth masks and are made of special materials designed to block out 95% of harmful particles. The fibers are pressed closer together than in a cloth mask and have an electrostatic charge that attracts the molecules to stick instead of passing through the mask.
The KN95s and KF94s offer the same level of protection. A complete list of masks that meet international quality standards is available on the CDC website.,
But be careful while buying. According to the CDC, the counterfeit market is huge, and about 60% of KN95s in the US are counterfeit and do not meet quality standards.
It is difficult to tell whether a mask is fake just by looking at it, so experts suggest buying directly from reputable vendors. Project N95 is also a known seller of validated brands, and Marr says she buys masks through industrial suppliers like Grainger’s or McMaster-Carr.
If you find it difficult to wear some N95s for long periods of time, experts suggest exploring the different shapes and styles available to see what’s best for you.
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