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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have recently released a statement. updated their mask-wearing adviceExplaining that certain masks are more effective than other when it comes to stopping COVID-19 spreading,
As the omicron variant continues to make its way around the world, the CDC has clarified that people should “wear the most protective mask you can that fits well.”
On the agency’s “Types of Masks and Respirators” page, they explained the importance of a well-fitting mask that is free of gaps around the nose and along the edges. They also stressed that not all masks are the same.
What type of mask should I wear?
According to the CDC, respirator masks that are approved by the National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH) provide the highest level of protection from viral particles, including the virus that causes COVID. The CDC recommends loosely woven cloth masks as the best protection.
“Loosely woven cloth products provide the least protection, layered finely woven products offer more protection, well-fitting disposable surgical masks, and KN95s offer even more protection, and well-fitting NIOSH-approved respirators (including N95s) offer the highest level of protection,” the CDC states.
Dr. Leana WenThe Milken Institute School of Public Health, George Washington University, agreed to this. telling The Sacramento Bee that in the light of omicron, “cloth masks are little more than facial decorations.”
The Difference between N95 and KN95 Masques
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (USA) has certified N95 masks. KN95 masks are manufactured and approved by China. Both types of masks are “rated with 95 percent filtration efficiency,” according to USA Today. KN95 masks however are more widely accessible.
“When it comes to how a mask performs, the ones that perform the best in public filter up to 95% of particles at 0.3 microns. And in that regard, you have to use an N95 mask but I think what’s more available for the public are KN95 masks.”
To ensure you’re getting authentic, high quality masks, we recommend shopping N95 masksOr KN95 masksFrom Protectly.co, an independent firm that works directly with FDA-Registered & NIOSH-Certified domestic and international manufacturers.
Can you reuse N95 or KN95 masks?
Both N95 and KN95 masks were designed for one use. But some experts say that you can get away with wearing these types of higher-quality masks a few times—if you take the proper steps.
Dr. Gastaldo advises that your mask should be kept in a paper bag for 24-48hrs between uses.
“The concern about wearing a mask in public, obviously, if you get particles on it, perhaps even the virus, but if you store it in a dry bag, you are essentially sanitizing again over a period of time,” Dr. Gastaldo explained.
Chief medical officer at VeryWell Health Dr. Jessica Shepherd, said that the paper bag isn’t actually sanitizing the mask. However, she agreed that the mask storage in a paper bag is a good idea.
“It’s not the bag that’s doing the magic trick, it’s actually the process of keeping the mask away from decontaminating someone else or a surface, and also keeping a dry environment in order for the virus to not spread or stay on the mask,” Dr. Shepherd explained to WWL-TV.
A Mask Rotation
Dr. Sabrina Assoumou—infectious disease physician at Boston Medical Center—told USA Today She recommends that you have multiple N95 masks and rotate them.
“For an N95, we’d recommend you switch (the mask) every day,” Dr. Assoumou said. “But, you can rotate them. If you have three masks, (for example), you could number them and switch them around.”
KN95 Masks Dr. Jeremy BiggsWWL-TV was told by the University of Utah to rotate them and allow them to sit for at most one day between each use. He also pointed out that KN95 masks can’t be washed.
According to the Navajo Department of Health in ArizonaYou should keep each mask in a separate bag in your home and label who uses it. These bags should be thrown away or cleaned out regularly. Another option is hanging your masks in a “designated storage area.”
When It’s Time To Toss Your Mask
Both N95 and KN95 masks are high quality, but you can’t use them forever. There will come a time when you’ll need to throw out your mask because its effectiveness does decline. The straps of an N95 mask are worn out every time you take it off and then put it on again.
Eventually, the mask will no longer be able to “generate enough force to create a tight seal with the face.” Because of this, the CDC recommends limiting the number of times a mask is removed and put back on to five. The CDC recommends washing your hands immediately following the removal or application of a mask.
Besides stretched straps, experts say there are other things to look for that will indicate it’s time to throw away your N95 or K95 mask. These signs are “fraying, stretched out straps, or deterioration of the mask.”
The Navajo Department of Health says a mask that is “visibly dirty or damaged” should be tossed, as well as ones with “bodily fluids” and those that have been used in close contact with someone who has an infectious disease. If you touch its interior, the respirator should be thrown out.
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