CDC warns loosely woven cloth masks are ‘least protective’ against COVID

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

Any mask is better than no mask. But loosely woven cloth masks offer the least protection and Americans may in some cases want to opt for higher quality masks like KN95 and N95 respirators, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention wrote Friday in guidelines posted online. up to date.

“Wearing a highly protective mask or respirator may be most important for some high-risk situations, or for some people at increased risk for severe disease,” the CDC said.

The updated guidelines come after weeks of health experts urging Americans to upgrade their face masks to the omicron, warning that cloth masks are not effective enough to prevent the spread of the highly transmissible variant. .

But with much of the public reluctant to wear a mask at all, the CDC’s recommendation stops short of calling on Americans to choose one mask over another, saying any mask is better than none. mask. The CDC also argues that higher quality masks may be less comfortable and that if a person takes them off, they are left unprotected.

“What I will say is that the best mask you can wear is one that you will wear and one that you can wear all day that you can tolerate in indoor public places and tolerate where you have to wear it,” said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the CDC, told reporters this week.

N95 and KN95 masks can be expensive and harder to find, even though the US government has stockpiled 737 million N95s to ensure first responders don’t run out. President Joe Biden said this week he was developing a plan to make better quality masks more widely available.

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

In its initial guidance, the CDC urged Americans not to purchase N95 surgical masks in order to save them for healthcare workers. However, he noted that “basic disposable” respirators may be an option as long as supplies are available.

While these latest guidelines stop short of calling for people to wear a certain type of mask, they do include more information on why someone might opt ​​for a non-surgical N95 or KN95. He also suggests wearing a disposable surgical mask with a cloth mask over it to improve fit.

“Some masks and respirators provide 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 guidance. “It is very important to wear a properly fitted mask or respirator that is comfortable for you and provides good protection.”

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