COVID: CDC updates mask instructions

By Katherine Dillinger and John Bonifield, CNN

(CNN) – US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its mask information to the American public on Friday, including clarifying that certain types of masks and respirators offer more protection against coronavirus than others, and to provide tips on what consumers should look for when shopping for them.

“Masking is a critical public health tool to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and it is important to remember that any mask is better than no mask,” the CDC said in a statement.

The updated guidelines recommend that Americans wear the most protective mask or respirator they can find that fits well and that they will wear consistently.

“Some masks and respirators offer higher levels of protection than others, and some may be harder to tolerate or wear consistently than others,” the new guidelines say. “The most important thing is to wear a well-fitting mask or respirator properly, which is comfortable for you and which provides good protection.”

The information was last updated in October. CDC Director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, said Wednesday that the agency planned to update the information to reflect the opportunities available to people and the level of protection that different masks provide.

“Loose fabric products provide the least protection, layered fine woven products provide more protection, well-fitting disposable surgical masks and KN95s provide even more protection, and well-adapted (National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety) -approved respirators (including N95s) offer it. highest level of protection, “says the CDC.

The updated guidelines note that “an extremely protective mask or respirator may be most important for certain higher-risk situations, or by some people at increased risk for serious illness.” This includes:

  • When caring for someone who has Covid-19
  • When you are on a plane or public transportation, especially for an extended period of time
  • When you work at a job where you come in contact with a lot of people, especially when not everyone else is masked
  • When you are not up to date on Covid-19 vaccines
  • If you have a risk factor for serious illness such as a weakened immune system or a particular medical condition
  • When you are in a crowded public place, either indoors or outdoors

Masks are still not recommended for children under the age of 2, but the CDC “recommends universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of their vaccination status or area transmission rates.”

The updated guidelines provide tips for a better fit and more protection, such as:

  • Wear two stitches (a fabric stitch on top of a disposable stitch).
  • Combine a cloth or disposable math with a fitter or brace.
  • Tie and stitch ear straps of fabric stitches where they meet the edge of the stitch.
  • Fold and place extra material on disposable stitches under the edges.
  • Wear masks that are fastened behind the head and neck with elastic or ties (instead of ear straps).

The CDC says consumers looking for masks that meet quality standards can look for certain labels such as “meet ASTM F3502” or “meet workplace performance,” and they can go to a National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health website to get more information on personal protective equipment

The agency also says certain respirators do not meet international standards and have links to websites for more details.

Specially labeled “surgical” N95s “should be reserved for use by healthcare professionals,” says the CDC.

“These updates to our Web site reflect the science of masking, including what we’ve learned over the last two years,” the agency said in the statement. “We will continue to share the science of masking as it becomes available.”

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