For highly-infectious Omicron, use N-95 masks, say experts
US: High-quality N95 masks aren’t just for health-care workers anymore. Starting Thursday, Connecticut begand giving away 6 million of them to the state’s 3.6 million residents.
Any mask can help prevent COVID-19 transmission “but an N95 will provide better protection,” said Manisha Juthani, the state’s public health commissioner, in a statement announcing the giveaway. “We are distributing enough N95 masks for any Connecticut resident that would like one.”
Early in the pandemic, N95s were in such short supply that health authorities told the public to leave them for medical workers. These days, with supplies plentiful, the public-health message is “up your mask game,” as Seattle-area officials put it.
“Because the omicron variant is so highly contagious, well-fitting and high-quality face masks are more important than ever,” they warned.
With omicron rising, so is demand for gold-standard N95s and the less-expensive Chinese-made KN95s that are similar but less regulated. Both versions are widely available online, with KN95s going for as little as a dollar each. With their ability to fit tightly and filter out at least 95% of airborne particles, the masks provide better protection than both cloth versions and those ubiquitous blue surgical coverings.