The CDC warns that loosely woven fabric masks are ‘least protective’ against COVID


The CDC says people at high risk for COVID might want to opt for an N95 mask.

Every mask is better than no mask. But loosely woven fabric masks provide the least amount of protection, and in some cases, Americans may want to opt for higher-quality masks such as KN95 and N95 respirators, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention wrote Friday. updated online guide.

“Wearing a very protective mask or respirator may be most important for certain situations at higher risk, or by some people at increased risk for serious illness,” the CDC stated.

The updated guide comes after weeks of health experts urging Americans to upgrade their masks in the light of omicron and warning that fabric masks are not effective enough to stop the highly transmissible variant from spreading.

But with a large section of the public reluctant to wear a mask at all, the CDC recommendation stops urging Americans to choose one mask over another, and maintains that any mask is better than no mask. The CDC also claims that higher quality masks may be less comfortable and if a person takes them off, they are left without protection.

“What I want to say is the best mask you can wear is the one you want to wear and the one you can wear all day long that you can tolerate in a public indoor setting and tolerate where you have to wear it. , “says Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the CDC director, told reporters this week.

N95 and KN95 masks can be expensive and harder to find, though the U.S. government has built up a stockpile of 737 million N95s to ensure first aiders do not run out. President Joe Biden said this week that he is developing a plan to make higher quality masks more accessible.

“Next week we will announce how we are making high quality masks available to the American people for free,” Biden said.

In its previous guide, the CDC urged Americans not to buy surgical N95 masks to save them for health professionals. It noted, however, that “basic disposable” respirators may be an option as long as supplies are available.

While this latest guide stops encouraging people to wear a particular type of mask, it does provide more information on why a person may choose a non-surgical N95 or a KN95. It also suggests wearing a surgical disposable mask with a fabric mask over to improve the fit.

“Some masks and respirators offer higher levels of protection than others, and some may be more difficult to tolerate or wear consistently than others,” the CDC said in the updated guide. “The most important thing is to wear a well-fitting mask or respirator properly, which is comfortable for you and which provides good protection.”

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