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Friday, May 20, 2022

Which is better now to wear a cloth mask or N95?

Emma H. ​​Tobin | Associated Press

NEW YORK. Is it better to wear an N95 or a cloth mask now?

Health experts suggest strengthening protection against the highly contagious omicron variant with stronger masks such as N95 or KN95.

This is especially important now that health systems are overwhelmed and people are in high-risk situations, such as being in crowded spaces for long periods, says Lynsey Marr, who studies viruses at Virginia Tech.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently updated their guidance to recommend the types of masks used by healthcare professionals, but also noted that it’s important to choose a mask that fits well and that you will wear at all times.

“Our core message remains that any mask is better than no mask,” CDC spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund said in a statement.

The CDC has previously said that N95 masks should be reserved for healthcare workers due to supply shortages. There is a special category of “N95 surgical masks” that are generally not available for sale to the public and should still be reserved for healthcare facilities, according to the CDC.

N95s are tighter to the face than cloth masks and are made from a special material designed to block out 95% of harmful particles. The fibers are pressed closer together than in cloth masks and have an electrostatic charge that attracts molecules to the mask rather than passing through it.

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