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Expert explains which mask to use to protect against omicron

2022-01-20T23:56:10.392Z

Dr. Leana Wen shares recommendations for the use of masks in the wake of new CDC guidance and the advancement of omicron.



New CDC update on masks 0:58

(CNN) --

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new guidance last week urging Americans to use the highest quality mask. they may be able to wear consistently and fit well.

Specifically, the CDC classified masks by their level of protection.


"Loose-fitting products offer the least protection, thin-layered knit products offer the most protection, well-fitting disposable surgical masks and KN95s offer even more protection, and filtering masks approved by the National Institute of Health and Safety Well-fitting Occupational (including N95) offers the highest level of protection," CDC recommendations dictate.

  • The CDC updates its information on masks.

    these are the best

Many public health experts have been urging this change for months, including Dr. Leana Wen, a CNN medical analyst.

We caught up with Wen to answer some common questions about wearing masks.

Wen is an emergency physician and professor of health policy and management at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health.

She is also the author of "Lifelines: A Doctor's Journey in the Fight for Public Health."

CNN: Why have you urged the CDC to make this change in guidance on wearing masks?

Dr. Leana Wen:

We've known for over a year that COVID-19 is an airborne disease.

The quality of the mask is important when it comes to preventing an airborne infection that is so highly transmissible.

This is especially important now that we have the extremely contagious omicron variant.

We should encourage people to wear the right mask, the best one, that protects them.

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CNN: What mask would you recommend to people?

Wen: In closed and crowded places, I strongly recommend that people wear an N95, KN95 or KF94 mask.

The N95 is the American standard;

KN95 is the Chinese standard;

the KF94 is the Korean standard.

All of them can be very effective in protecting against the transmission of covid-19.

The CDC emphasizes consistency, which is very important.

Some people will experience discomfort when using these filtering masks.

I suggest you try different types of masks.

It may seem to someone that an N95 is too tight, but a KN95 is fine.

Others prefer the feel of a KF94.

There are some that have elastic ties on the ears instead of on the head, and there are also people who have preferences in this regard.

CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen says a well-fitting and consistently used N95 respirator is a very effective way to protect against the spread of COVID-19.

CNN: What if someone doesn't find any of these masks comfortable?

Wen:

If someone really can't wear a filtering mask consistently, they should wear a double mask.

Consider wearing a medical-grade surgical mask, then layering a well-fitting, fine-knit cloth over it.

CNN: How can someone tell if what they're buying is real or fake?

Wen:

Buy masks from trusted sources.

Project N95 is a national nonprofit organization that has links.

Buying directly from the supplier, such as 3M or Kimberly Clark, can also help reduce risk.

CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta has more tips on how to spot counterfeit masks.

The Biden administration is also making 400 million non-surgical N95 masks available to Americans for free starting next week.

The masks should be available at various local pharmacies and community health centers in early February.

In related news, the federal government has also launched a website to send people free COVID-19 tests.

People can order a maximum of four tests, which will be sent to their homes.

  • This is how you can get free home tests for covid-19 in the US

CNN: Should I look for an N95 with or without a valve?

Wen:

I advise you to look for N95 masks that do not have an exhalation valve.

Those that have a valve protect the user very well, but it is possible that, if you get infected, the virus particles escape from the valve and infect other people.

However, the escape level of the virus is quite low;

according to the CDC, N95s with an exhalation valve work just as well as surgical or cloth masks in protecting others.

So, if a valved N95 is all you can tolerate, you should use it, but it's not recommended over an unvalved N95.

And be sure to try the KN95 or KF94, which might be even more comfortable for you.

CNN: These masks are expensive.

Do you have to throw them away every day?

Wen:

No, they can be reused.

The number of times they are reused depends on their condition and how often they are used.

Someone who uses the masks from time to time to go to the supermarket can reuse the same mask for weeks.

Someone else who wears it all day for work might have to change them every few days.

Use common sense to decide if it is time to replace the mask.

Throw it away if it's clearly dented and out of shape or if it's wet or dirty, for example if you've sneezed into it.

CNN: Do they need to be cleaned?

Wen:

No, and I don't recommend that you try to clean them.

Spraying the mask with disinfectant or water, or heating it in the microwave, could irreparably damage it.

Some people worry that the mask is carrying viruses.

There is little evidence of the transmission of covid-19 by contact with surfaces, but if you want to be more sure, have two or three masks that you use on a rotating basis each day.

When you're done with one of the day's masks, store it in a plastic bag or container.

Use another one the next day and then use the first mask again.

Remember that if it is dirty or wet, throw it away and use a new one.

CNN: And the children, can they also use the filtering masks?

Wen:

There are some KFN94s and KN95s for children, but it's important to remember that fit is very important.

Some children find them comfortable.

If not, a surgical mask with a cloth over it would be a good alternative.

  • There are many N95 masks, but they are not designed for your children

CNN: There is a lot of uncertainty about what happens with the omicron variant and covid-19 in general.

Is there at least certainty about the importance of the use of masks?

Wen:

Yes, the use of masks is an important layer of protection, especially when there is so much virus circulating.

You have to know that, even if others around you do not use masks systematically, you can use a high-quality mask that continues to protect you.

I want everyone to update their masks with the best that we can use constantly, and that we use them in closed and crowded places.

masksomicron

Source: cnnespanol

All news articles on 2022-01-20

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