These days, personal protective equipment may prove hard to come by, leading some Americans to wear masks that offer substandard protection. Scott Gottlieb, M.D., a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a former commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, appears regularly on “Face the Nation.” In recent appearances, Dr. Gottlieb has emphasized the importance of not only wearing a mask, but wearing a high-quality one.
What masks should Americans be using when they make plans to vote in-person during #COVID19? What is the safest mask on the market right now?@ScottGottliebMD explains how to #maskup safely on #ElectionDay --> pic.twitter.com/pyBHfUwAIr— Face The Nation (@FaceTheNation) October 25, 2020
Masks serve two critical purposes: they protect others in the event that you have COVID-19 and are asymptomatic or presymptomatic, and they also help protect you from others who may have the novel coronavirus.
Not all masks perform equally, however. Cloth masks, in particular, lack the protective qualities that others, among them surgical, N95 and KN95 masks, have.
Cloth masks, which many Americans wear due to a lack of alternatives, are between about 10% and 30% protective. The benefits of these masks are that they are affordable, washable, reusable and readily available. The main drawback is that they are simply nowhere near as effective as many alternatives.
If a cloth mask is your only available option, Gottlieb notes that thickness matters. Thicker cloth masks are superior in performance to thinner ones. Cloth masks that offer a combination of polyester and cotton also tend to be superior to cloth masks made exclusively of cotton.
Level 2 and 3 surgical masks are about 60% effective, making them superior to cloth masks when it comes to performance. Surgical masks are also affordable and relatively easy to find in most areas. However, they are still not your most effective, high-performing option.
N95 masks and KN95 masks are similar to one another in terms of performance and are between about 90% and 95% effective at protecting you and others, making them the most effective mask option available. The “95” in both names refers to the standards that require masks to be able to filter out at least 95% of extremely small particles. The main difference between the two types is where they undergo certification. N95 masks undergo certification domestically, while KN95 masks undergo certification in China.
While N95 and KN95 masks are the most effective types available, they are also suitable for reuse for a limited number of wears. On the flip side, they may cost more than underperforming alternatives and may, too, prove harder to find. With the recent surge in new cases, some authorities have cited shortages once again. The pricing, particularly on KN95s, has not yet increased to the levels seen last spring, so these masks remain a great value for the informed buyer.
While there are reports of mask shortages as Covid-19 cases surge, Neomask PPE maintains a broad inventory of N95 and KN95 masks that are available for purchase in the United States. Affordable and in-stock, these high-quality masks offer superior protection against the particles known to cause COVID-19. Shop Neomask’s expansive collection of N95, KN95 masks, disposable masks, or other PPE items. We also offer special pricing for bulk sales.