We’ve been assessing the best ways to prioritize our safety as new information about COVID-19 has become available. Face masks aren’t going away anytime soon, and with the Omicron variant as the most common strain, it might be time to upgrade our old ones.
Though any type of masking is necessary, public health agencies and officers are suggesting to switch from cloth masks to masks with filtration systems, such as KN95 mask made in USA, as your personal protective safety tool.
N95 face masks are disposable masks worn by healthcare workers for occupational safety (think surgical mask), but they have the best filtration system, keeping any unwanted airborne particles away from your face (and respiratory system), and the CDC recommends non-surgical N95 masks. If you don’t have N95 masks, you can wear KN95 masks or KF94 masks.
Everyone now has access to free N95 masks. You can find a list of pharmacies that are or will be distributing them in your area according to the CDC’s website. It may be more difficult to locate an N95 mask right now. If N95 masks are unavailable, KN95 masks or KF94 masks can be worn instead. Don’t know what those letters and numbers mean? Don’t worry, we’ll assist you in breaking it down.
KN95 masks are made in China and comply with Chinese aerosol particle regulation standards, but not with US standards. So they aren’t given to healthcare workers, but if you’re out and about, they could be a good option. South Korea produces the KF94 masks. The KF stands for Korean Filter, and it blocks 94 percent of airborne particles versus 95 percent for the KN95. Both of these options are excellent for filtered masks.
If you’re still not sure, check out the CDC’s list of approved masks and where to find them. The main points of the guidelines are as follow:
When Should You Wear a Mask?
Wear a mask that provides you with the best fit, protection, and comfort.
Wear a mask indoors in public if you are 2 years or older and have not received your COVID-19 vaccines.
- People do not need to wear masks when they are outside in general. People may choose to wear a mask outdoors when in sustained close contact with other people in areas where transmission is substantial or high, especially if they or someone they live with has a weakened immunity or they are at increased risk for severe disease.
- They haven’t had their COVID-19 vaccines, or they live with someone who hasn’t had their COVID-19 vaccines.
- Even if they are up to date on their COVID-19 vaccines, people who have a condition or are taking medications that weaken their immune system may not be fully protected. Until their healthcare provider advises otherwise, they should continue to take all precautions recommended for unvaccinated people, including wearing a well-fitting mask.
- If you are up to date on your COVID-19 vaccines, wear a mask indoors in public if you are in an area with significant or high transmission to maximize protection and prevent the possible spread of COVID-19 to others.
On buses, trains, planes, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of America, as well as indoors at U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and train stations, wearing a mask over your nose and mouth is required. In the outdoor areas of a conveyance, passengers are not required to wear a mask (like on open deck areas of a ferry or the uncovered top deck of a bus).
Types of Masks
To protect yourself and others from COVID-19, the CDC continues to recommend that you wear the most protective mask you can find, one that fits well and that you will use regularly. Discover the various types of masks.
How to Choose
There are numerous options available when choosing a mask. Here are some do’s and don’ts to keep in mind.
- DO opt for masks with two or more layers of washable and breathable fabric.
- Two or more layers of washable, breathable fabric are recommended.
- DO choose masks that completely cover your nose and mouth; masks that completely cover your nose, mouth, and chin are the best.
- DO go for masks that fit snugly against your face’s sides and don’t have any gaps.
- Don’t have any gaps and fit snugly against the sides of your face.
- Don’t choose a mask with a clear face that is worn by a blind person.
- Don’t wear masks made of a fabric that makes it difficult to breathe, such as vinyl.
- Don’t choose a masks that has vents or exhalation valves that allow virus particles to escape
- Not a good idea: Face shields are still being tested, but their effectiveness is unknown at this time.
Particular Points to Consider
- To ensure proper fit, look for a mask designed for children. Learn about the various types of masks that are available to children.
- Cover your nose, mouth, and chin completely.
- Make sure the mask fits comfortably over the nose and mouth, as well as under the chin, with no gaps around the sides.
- Do not use a mask on children under the age of two.