The coronavirus is becoming more and more contagious, so it’s important to choose the right coronavirus mask.
Yes, We Still Need Masks
If you have been trying to decide whether you still need to wear a mask or not, a party of some of our leaders in Washington, D. C. just gave us a firsthand demonstration on why you should wear a mask:
“The number of people who tested positive for the coronavirus after attending the elite Gridiron Club dinner in Washington rose to 53 on Friday, all but confirming that the April 2 event marked a significant outbreak.
“The latest count suggests that at least 8 percent of the 630 journalists, politicians and VIPS who attended the annual dinner have reported positive tests.”
Yes, you guessed it, people were not wearing masks. Most were vaccinated and many had received a booster shot, but no, they didn’t bother to wear their masks. Masks provide that extra level of protection.
As Kimberly Prather, an aerosol scientist at the Scripps Institute of oceanography explains that, with the BA.2, a more contagious variant, old safety rules no longer apply. Prather says that the old 6-foot rule is useless. Prather contends that the rule should cover anyone sharing the air in a room.
Similarly, Dr. Carlos Del Rio, an infectious disease specialist at Emory University, states:
"If you were part of an event where there's multiple infections, you will have been exposed. I don't care if it's 6 feet or 15…."
As obviously demonstrated in Washington, staying six feet apart or even being vaccinated is not enough. If there is just one infected person in a room, then everyone is going to be exposed.
Remember our earlier analogy that COVID spreads similar to cigarette smoke? It certainly did in Washington. As Meryl Davids Landau explains:
“It’s true that viral particles are concentrated closest to an infected individual… but just as cigarette smoke eventually spreads throughout a room, so, too, does the coronavirus.”
For more information, read: Does My Child Still Need to Wear a Mask at School?
Six feet or 15 feet will not be enough. Since it has been demonstrated that we still need to wear a mask, which mask will you choose?
Which Mask Should I Wear?
If you are trying to decide which mask to wear, it can be so confusing.
The experts are saying to wear a N95, but what are the differences among the N95, KN95, and the KN94?
The Difference Between the N95 and the KN95
Some of the experts are saying to be careful when purchasing KN95 face masks. The KN95 is not necessarily as effective as the N95 mask. Why? Because of how it is made.
Dr. Marcus Schabacker, MD, PhD, and president and chief executive officer of ECRI (a non-profit organization that tests healthcare products used in hospitals) cautions people to be careful when purchasing KN95 masks.
“…product safety, found that 60 to 70 percent of imported KN95 masks do not filter 95 percent of aerosol particulates, contrary to what their name suggests.”
Joseph Allen, a COVID and ventilation expert from Harvard also stated that the N95 is best. He warns us to be careful when purchasing a KN95.
“… KN95s … a designation that’s very similar to an N95, but it’s not a US manufactured designation. I’m more cautious with these because we’ve had counterfeit [masks] on the market, some producing or providing only twenty five percent capture efficiency, despite being designated 95 percent. So KN95s can be good, it just requires consumers to do a bit more homework to look up on the FDA and CDC Web sites for the links that describe the testing done on masks by different manufacturers. … if you’re going to buy a KN95, [make] sure that it’s a mask that has been vetted and verified by the US, FDA and CDC."
The CDC website: Approved N95 Respirators 3M Suppliers List | NPPTL | NIOSH | CDC
Another factor to consider is that the KN95 does not provide the same breathability that the N95 provides. According to Conney Safety:
“Besides the N95 being made to meet US standards and the KN95 being made to meet Chinese standards, data obtained from the performance testing of both masks show that there is a lower pressure drop on inhalation and exhalation for the N95 facemask. This signifies that the N95 is slightly more breathable than the KN95 face mask.”
One other concern is that the KN95 often fastens over the ears. The N95 uses straps around the head, which gives a better fit and more protection.
Selecting the right mask is important. Therefore, you need to check the manufacturer before purchasing a mask. Also, be careful and watch out for false advertising.
For websites that give advice on selecting masks for children, see: Do We Still Need to Wear a Mask?
Is the KN94 safe to use?
Allen does say that a KF94 is usually very safe.
“… a KF94, these are masks certified out of Korea and as the name implies, ninety four percent effective. So really good masks. They tend to have a good fit and it’s a trusted certification out of Korea. These are widely used in South Korea.”
Buy a quality mask, but remember that fit is still a major concern. Olga Khazan explains:
“… your mask has to fit well, and it has to be an N95 or similar—cloth masks offer scant protection against Omicron. “Well fitting” means you shouldn’t have any air leakage out of the sides of the mask, near the nose, or by the chin. If you wear glasses, they shouldn’t fog up…. The kind of mask that’s most likely to fit you snugly is the kind with back-of-the-head straps, as opposed to ear loops….”
So, the conclusion is that a KN95 might be okay, but be careful, because some companies out of China are making KN95 masks that do not work as well. Always check the CDC chart for the effectiveness before you buy a mask.
Don’t let caution keep you from buying and wearing a mask though. Wear a quality mask and wear it correctly to protect yourself and those around you from COVID.