Because the U.S. is struggling to slow expansion Covid-19‘s Omicron version, there have been reports that disease control and prevention centers (CDC) considers that those who can be recommended to wear a mask of a higher standard when in public – in particular KN95 and Masks N95 which have been in high demand in the last two years.
The Washington Post quoting an unnamed official who says that “the agency is currently actively seeking to update its recommendations for KN95 and N95 in the light of Omicron”, explains: “we know you masks provide better filtration ”.
The news comes when a growing number of cases press on the CDC and Biden’s administration adapt its Covid-19 strategy on many fronts, from providing home tests to insulation requirements to vaccination authorizations. But the policy of masking remains particularly lively, and the question of which masks offer the best protection has been a factor since the pandemic seriously took off.
So why the CDC under pressure recommend these masks in particular? Why are they better than the canvas masks that the vast majority of people rely on – and given that they are relatively expensive and sometimes difficult for Americans to obtain, how can they be reused?
Why are they better?
Both the N95 and KN95 masks work by fitting snugly to the face and filtering the air using multiple layers of material designed to trap extremely small particles, something like regular cloths or disposable masks. can’t make it nearly as reliable.
In the US, N95 breathing masks are the recommended high-standard face covering for healthcare professionals. According to the CDC, N95, approved by the regulator, filter up to 95 percent of the particles in the air, if any properly attached to the face to form a tight seal. They breathe harder than a standard mask and are more expensive.
KN95, meanwhile, are cheaper and more widely available. Prior to the pandemic, they were not approved for medical use in the U.S., but were approved as an alternative to N95 if necessary. However, they are approved by various international standards, although the CDC notes that many of these standards do not include specific quality requirements – and more importantly, as many as 60 percent of those available in the U.S. are counterfeit.
How do you use them again?
Under normal circumstances, in accordance with CDC guidelines, the N95 mask should ideally not be reused. Due to problems with the supply of masks and other personal protective equipment that marked the first year of the pandemic, the agency issued instruction for their re-use, where healthcare professionals could not count on a steady supply of new high-quality disposable masks.
Survey published in 2020 suggested that the best ways to reuse the N95 included spinning it over several days, heating it to 70 degrees Fahrenheit for an hour, and even steam cleaning or cooking. However, we do not recommend washing with soap and water or alcohol.
This, in turn, applies to masks used by healthcare professionals in high-risk environments. For people who use masks in everyday life and can take other precautions, experts have proposed a simpler method that works for both N95 and KN95: leave the used mask in a dry brown paper bag for one or two days, allowing the mask to essentially dry, while preventing the virus that stays on it from infecting anyone nearby.