As the latest COVID-19 variant drives an avalanche of new infections, you’re wise to wonder about the best face maskOmicron. What is the effect of omicron on a cloth? mask still protect you? Do you need to double-masked? According to some health experts, it’s time to upgrade.
The U.S. reported record-high COVID-19 case counts at the start of 2022—a seven-day average of over 400,000 new cases per day—driven largely by the omicron variant. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have announced an increase in access to boosters and a reduction in quarantining time. Experts are now recommending that you upgrade your cloth. face masksTo a N95 or KN95 respirator masksAlternatively, you can opt for disposable surgery masks.
How important is it? The most recent CDC report maskThese guidelines were last updated in October 2021. They recommend that you wear any well-fitting clothes maskAt least two layers. Many health experts recommend better protection since the omicron variant became a global concern in November 2021. “Cloth masks are little more than facial decorations. There’s no place for them in light of omicron,”Leana Wen, M.D., CNN medical analyst, spoke to the news outlet.
Long-time health experts warn that cloth should not be worn while washing your skin. masks do a good job of blocking larger respiratory droplets that could contain coronavirus particles, they’re not so great at blocking the smaller aerosols—which can still infect you. This is where respirators come in handy. masksThey are superior. Take the KN95 maskFor example, At the most basic level, it’s four layers of material vs. the typical one or two layers found in a cloth mask. One of the layers is made of polypropylene which electrostatically filters it out. virus particles. Surgical masksThe three layers are: masksPolypropylene is also used in the clothing that medical professionals wear.
These layers could make a huge difference in terms of effectiveness. A cloth is a low-tech material. mask, coupled with what’s often a looser fit, means that the typical cloth face maskAccording to the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists, this could be as high as 75% inward or outward leakage. N95 masksAccording to the CDC, 95% of filters are effective in filtering particles from the air. masksCNN reports that N95s are generally 5% to 10% more effective than N95s.
What should you do about your cloth? masks? Experts recommend a cloth maskStill, it’s better than nothing. And if you’re committed to your cloth maskStyle game: Layer it with a disposable surgical gown maskFor better protection, use the below-the-liner option. Experts recommend that people upgrade to respiratory protection. masks.
Pandemic fears about shortages of PPE were raised in the early days of the pandemic. Health experts recommended that you not buy N95s or surgical instruments because of these shortages. masksToday’s concerns are less to save them for the health care workers who most need them. “If we’re going to go as far as to say that masks are required—when we don’t come from a mask-wearing culture and people don’t like wearing masks—at least recommend that they wear the most effective mask,”Dr. Wen agreed. For the record, the CDC guidelines still recommend against buying surgery. masks.
When shopping for a respirator masksBeware of counterfeits According to the CDC, 60% of N95s found in the U.S. today are fakes. Counterfeit N95, KN95 masks aren’t certified by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and therefore might not provide adequate protection. To make sure you’re getting the real thing, look for markings on the mask. Certified masksShould be stamped with N95/KN95 and have an approval number (TC). (See the CDC’s full list of ways to spot fakes here.)