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Masks are a crucial part of the defense against COVID-19 and its many variants. One Chicago doctor discusses their recommendation for the best mask for people to use against Omicron.
With the surge of Omicron cases, many health experts advise people to get booster shots to help curb the new variant. While people decide on getting boosters, good masks that adequately protect against the virus will be crucial. Many Americans are deciding which mask to choose as face coverings will most likely stay in our lives for another year. There are KN95 and N95 masks that are 95% effective and reusable cloth masks that have become commonplace at department stores. However, officials are advising against the latter type of mask as Omicron continues to prove more contagious, according to NBC 5 News.
Professional Advice for Omicron
Dr. Allison Arwady, the Chicago Department of Public Health commissioner, recommends that everyone wear a mask as it is “the most important thing.” She sees KN95 masks as more beneficial than cloth ones. These are the most widely accessible high-filtration masks out there, and Arwady views them as good to use.
She owns several masks of this type, opting to wear them on certain occasions or among many people. She thinks people should find a comfortable mask because wearing one will give them a ” higher protection level” against the Omicron variant.
While KN95 masks are good, N95 masks are slightly better because they have stricter pressure drop requirements. The UCLA School of Dentistry defines pressure drop as a measure of the resistance that the air meets as it flows through the respirator filter and into the mask. This means the lower the pressure drop, the easier it is to breathe, making it more comfortable. Unfortunately, given its high standing, N95s are hard to find, mostly reserved for first responders and workers in health care. Above all, Arwady urges people to find a mask that fits their face even if double-masking could be a good way to provide “excellent protection.”
If you’ve got gaps, you can have droplets leaking out. We’ve been recommending wearing one of the surgical masks with a cloth mask over it.
Written by Chiagozie Onyewuchi
Edited by Cathy Milne-Ware
NBC News: Cloth, KN95 or N95 Masks? Chicago’s Top Doctor Explains Which Best Protects From Omicron
UCLA School of Dentistry: N95 respirator testing
Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Rajesh Balouria’s Pixabay Page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image by ProtoplasmaKid courtesy of Wikimedia – Creative Commons License