CDC warns that cloth masks do not protect against coronavirus as effectively as other masks


People receive boxes of KN95 masks during a back to school event in Los Angeles.

People receive boxes of KN95 masks during a back to school event in Los Angeles.

Photo: ATRICK T. FALLON/AFP/Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated their guidance on masks on Friday and they said N95 masks provide the best protection against COVID-19.

The CDC has acknowledged that the cloth face coverings commonly used in the United States do not offer as much protection as surgical masks or respirators.

While this disparity is widely known to the general public, the update marks the first time the CDC has explicitly addressed the differences.

The CDC also removed its concerns about the shortage of N95 masks. normal for health workers.

At the start of the pandemic, the CDC advised against N95 masks because there were fears there might not be enough for healthcare workers if the general public sought them out.

The change occurs as coronavirus infections with the highly contagious Omicron variant continue to rise.

The update comes days after Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC, said the website “needs to be updated right now” to explain the “different levels of protection that different masks provide.”

The CDC said that N95 and KN95 masks provide the best protection due to their “filtering facepiece respirators.”

“When used consistently and properly, they provide the highest level of protection against particles, including the virus that causes COVID-19. Plus, they contain your droplets and respiratory particles so you don’t expose others,” the CDC said.

When worn correctly, masks filter 95% of particles. The CDC warns people choosing a KN95 mask to be careful, as 60% of KN95 masks sold in 2020 and 2021 were counterfeit.

The CDC has a guide to detect fake N95 masks. If the masks are too big, the CDC has a video that shows how they can fit a smaller face and make sure they fit properly.

The CDC says that cloth masks are the least protective, but the official recommendation for masks remains that any mask a person wears is better than none.

“We encourage all Americans to wear a well-fitting mask to protect themselves and prevent the spread of COVID 19,” Walensky said at a White House briefing on Wednesday. “And the recommendation is not going to change.”

It may interest you:

– Ómicron: the masks that offer the best protection against Covid-19

– Yes, you need to wear a better mask

– Joe Biden announces more free tests and military doctors before the Omicron variant

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