We’re going to be wearing masks for a while.
Health experts warn that the coronavirus pandemic is far from over, especially with variants of the disease circulating in Wisconsin.
That means good mask etiquette will remain important to prevent the spread of disease.
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Here are answers to common mask questions from Dr. Mary Beth Graham, a health care expert at Froedtert Hospital & the Medical College of Wisconsin.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention just came out with new recommendations regarding masking. Those recommendations focus on improving the fit and coverage over the nose and mouth and decreasing the “vents” along the sides of the mask.
The CDC suggests you do this either by double masking (wearing a cloth mask atop a disposable surgical mask) or by knotting and tucking the ear loops on a single surgical mask. The better the fit of the mask and the more tightly that the mask conforms to your face, the less likely one is to be exposed to potentially infectious aerosols.
Is it better to wear two masks? What two?
New data suggests that wearing two masks may provide additional protection over wearing one. The most important issue is the fit of the mask so that it fully covers the nose and mouth. If you use a single cloth mask, make sure it is made of multiple layers of fabric and has a nose wire that can be positioned to prevent air from leaking out the top of the mask.
Alternatively, CDC has recommended the use of a mask fitter or brace that can be worn over a mask (either cloth or disposable) to prevent air from leaking around the edges of the mask.
If you use two masks, wear a disposable mask under a cloth mask that has multiple layers of fabric.
If wearing two masks is uncomfortable, knotting the ear loops of a three-ply mask where they join the edge of the mask can improve the fit and provide additional protection.
Otherwise, good single masks are marked either KN95 or KF94.
The CDC does not recommend combining an N95, KN95, or KF94 with another mask.
How do you find a high-quality mask? How do you know if they are high quality?
A high-quality cloth mask should have at least three layers or a tightly woven fabric and fully cover the nose and mouth. A high-quality disposable mask should have at least three layers.
Should people buy an N95 mask if they can find one? Is a KN95 mask just as good? What about KF94 masks?
N95 masks that are worn in U.S. health care facilities are NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety) approved, and workers who wear them must be “fit-tested” to assure a tight seal in compliance with federal regulations. The CDC has recommended that these masks be restricted for use by health care workers.
KN95 masks are the Chinese equivalent of the N95 mask and can be purchased online by the public. The KN95 mask is more effective at filtering out aerosolized droplets than a routine surgical mask but is not considered equivalent to an N95 for use by medical professionals.