CDC says people at high risk of COVID might want to opt for an N95 disguise.
Any disguise is better than no disguise. But loosely woven cloth masks provide the least amount of protection and Americans in some situations might want to opt for higher quality masks like KN95 and N95 respirators, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention wrote Friday in updated online guidance.
“Wearing a highly protective disguise or respirator may be most important for certain higher risk situations, or by some people at increased risk for harsh disease,” the CDC stated.
The updated guidance comes after weeks of health experts urging Americans to upgrade their masks in the confront of omicron, warning that cloth masks are not effective enough at stopping the highly transmissible variant from spreading.
But with much of the public reluctant to use a disguise at all, the CDC recommendation stops short of calling on Americans to choose one disguise over the other, maintaining that any disguise is better than no disguise. The CDC also argues that higher quality masks can be less comfortable, and if a person takes it off, they are left with no protection.
“What I will say is the best disguise that you can use is the one that you will use and the one you can keep on all day long that you can tolerate in public indoor settings and tolerate where you need to use it,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the CDC director, told reporters this week.
N95 and KN95 masks can be costly and harder to find, already as the U.S. government has built up a stockpile of 737 million N95s to ensure first responders don’t run out. President Joe Biden said this week he is developing a plan to make the higher quality masks more widely obtainable.
“Next week we’ll announce how we’re making high-quality masks obtainable to the American people for free,” Biden said.
In its earlier guidance, the CDC urged Americans not to buy surgical N95 masks so as to save them for health care workers. However, it noted that “basic disposable” respirators can be an option so long as supplies are obtainable.
While this latest guidance stops short of calling on people to use a certain kind of disguise, it includes more information about why a person might opt for a nonsurgical N95 or a KN95. It also indicates wearing a disposable surgical disguise with a cloth disguise over it to enhance the fit.
“Some masks and respirators offer higher levels of protection than others, and some may be harder to tolerate or use consistently than others,” the CDC stated in the updated guidance. “It is most important to use a well-fitted disguise or respirator correctly that is comfortable for you and that provides good protection.”
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