As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers a recommendation that Americans wear more protective masks amid an increase in COVID cases caused by the omicron variant, medical professionals offer their advice on the best coverings facial.
Most healthcare professionals argue that any mask is better than no mask, but different face coverings provide different levels of protection.
The top-of-the-line mask in terms of protection is N-95, which filters airborne particles at a remarkable rate. At the start of the pandemic, experts urged Americans not to buy the masks, preferring to keep them for medical professionals, but with shortages becoming less of an issue, many experts, including Dr Allison Arwady, say the N-95 may be worth buying.
“The health care system has what it needs now for the N-95s,” she said.
N-95 masks are certified by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and bear the “NIOSH” seal.
The masks also have bands that go behind the wearer’s head, rather than earrings.
“The beauty of these is that the seal around your nose and mouth is much tighter,” Arwady said.
Next up is the KN-95 and KF-94 masks, although they tend to be more expensive.
Northwestern University professor Dr Justin Fiala says these masks are good for high-risk environments where contact with members of the public is expected.
“If you go to a crowded place, go shopping or if it’s not a well ventilated place, it would be up to you to get the highest level of filtration,” he said.
While omicron COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations remain high in the United States, health officials have explained how best to wear a face covering to avoid contracting the virus. NBC’s Kate Chappell Reports 5.
The main issue with KN-95 masks is counterfeiting, as the CDC warns that up to 60% of masks on the market are counterfeit.
The CDC’s website has brand and product number information from reputable companies, and they encourage residents to research this information before purchasing the siding.
The next step is surgical masks, which experts say are more protective than fabric masks.
“Surgical masks are comfortable for me. I love them and that’s what I’m used to, ”said Fiala.
No matter what type of mask a resident chooses, the ultimate key is fit. The tighter a mask is, the more it will protect you from disease.
“I layer a fabric mask (the surgical mask) because for me it’s something that I can go on indefinitely without a problem,” said Fiala.
As for fabric masks, experts say a certain type of mask is better than no mask, but recommend wearing a surgical mask underneath.
“What these cloth masks really do is catch most of the large droplet particles being expelled while sneezing and talking,” Fiala said. “What he lacks is the aerosol, very fine droplets that will stay in the air for hours, even after someone leaves the room.