CDC considering updating mask recommendation

Published: Jan. 13, 2022 at 6:18 PM CST
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - When it comes to protecting yourself against COVID-19, there’s been some debate on which masks offer the most protection.

The CDC is considering recommending people upgrade their cloth masks to N95 or KN95 masks as the Omicron variant continues to rapidly spread.

“A cloth mask, while it remains an amazing source control in it really is good at keeping droplets to yourself, we want folks to be more protected now by using surgical masks like these paper masks or KN95 or an N95 which are more of a respirator,” Marshfield Clinic Director of Infection Prevention, Doctor Katelynn Maguire said.

Maguire says N95 and KN95 masks can provide better protection, but to make they are legit.

“These are the masks approved by NIOSH and OSHA. They have to go through rigorous testing,” Maguire said. “KN95, these are often coming from foreign markets. Checking the type of KN95 against the CDC NIOSH website will give you great insight if that N95 or KN95 is appropriate or it may be counterfeit.”

Maguire says to work efficiently, masks must be worn properly.

“Ensuring that your surgical mask fits is really important,” Maguire said. “Making sure you push that nose down. You know, these have little nose wires. Push that nose wire down. Other folks also do things like twist the loops to make that N95 fits really well or push in the corners.”

Prevea Health Chief Medical Officer, Ken Johnson, says you know masks are on the right way is if air isn’t escaping.

“The way an N95 works is it makes your breath go through the material of the mask so it can’t leak out through the nose or around the sides,” Johnson said. “A good test would be if you’re wearing glasses and they’re fogging up, that means air is escaping around the mask.”

If you can’t get your hands on the N95 or KN95 masks, Johnson says there may be an alternative.

“If all you can use is a cloth mask, double up,” Johnson said. “The other thing I would recommend is if you can find a level one surgical mask, again, it’s going to have 2 layers.”

Medical officials say whichever type of mask you wear, the key is to make sure it fits you properly.

The CDC offers resources on how to fit test your masks at home to ensure you are wearing them effectively. To learn more, click here.

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