Do We Need to Upgrade Our Face Masks?


In Scientific Americans, senior editor Tanya Lewis writes that because high quality masks like N95 and K95s are widely available now and provide best protection from respiratory virus particles in the air (aerosols), its probably time to upgrade our face masks.

Tanya remind us that during the early in the pandemic, because of the shortage of such high-quality masks U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended cloths or surgical masks for the public and the high quality N95 respirators marks to high-risk healthcare and other works.

“There is now a cornucopia of high-filtration respirator-style masks on the market, including N95s, Chinese-made KN95s and South Korean–made KF94s. They have been widely available and relatively affordable for months and provide better protection than cloth or surgical masks.”

On September 10, the CDC has updated it’s guideline suggesting that now even general public could wear the high-quality N95 and other masks.

CDC continues to recommend that N95 respirators should be prioritized for protection against COVID-19 in healthcare settings. Essential workers and workers who routinely wore respirators before the pandemic should continue wearing N95 respirators. As N95s become more available they can be worn in non-healthcare settings, however, cloth masks are an acceptable and recommended option for masking.

CDC spokesperson Jade Fulce (source: Scientific American)

According to the article, Scientific American spoke with experts on aerosol transmission and provides more detailed information on:

  • What masks are good for?
  • Which masks are best?
  • The best masks for kids
  • Where to find legitimate masks
  • Reusing masks
  • Double masking
  • Facial hair

Linsey Marr, an environmental engineer and aerosol science expert at Virginia Tech, told Scientific American “A year ago we could say that we were concerned about shortages for health care workers, so we were telling people to make your cloth mask, and any mask is better than no mask. But given what scientists know now—especially with the virus’s highly transmissible Delta variant spreading and people spending more time indoors in schools, for example — ‘I think the CDC should be recommending high-performance masks for everyone when they’re in these risky indoor situations’ ”.

The Mayo Clinic website has additional information on how well do face masks protect against coronavirus?

The following Covid-19 Resources on Respirators and Masks from the FDA website:

Coronavirus-19 vaccination watch

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID vaccination tracker page (as of October 13, 9 a.m.) 489,254,145 doses have been distributed and 404,371,247 doses administered. According MDH COVID-19 Response vaccine data (as of October 11) a total of 6,644,085 doses of Covid-19 (Pfizer & Moderna) vaccines have been administered in Minnesota. According to the MDH latest tally (as of October 13) the confirmed COVID-19 cases in Minnesota are 749,144 (out of 13,024,251 tested) with 8,354 deaths.