In the halls of government, school board meetings, and neighborhood shopping centers across the world, debates continue about the value of masking for protection against COVID-19 infections. But ECRI experts and other healthcare leaders stress that now is no time to let our guard down nor shed our PPE masks.
Rather, let’s take what we’ve learned about PPE during this pandemic, and use it to better protect ourselves against COVID-19’s omicron variant, which is estimated to be two to four times more contagious than earlier strains of the virus. We know that masks work, wearing a mask reduces the speed of virus transmission, and not all masks are created equal.
“Although cases are on the decline, the omicron variant is highly transmissible and life-threatening, especially for unvaccinated individuals. In spite of this risk, U.S. cities and states are actively rolling back mask restrictions. This is concerning to me and ECRI is continuing to provide trusted guidance on the importance of appropriate safety measures,” says Marcus Schabacker, MD, PhD, President and Chief Executive Officer of ECRI.
To protect against omicron, N95 masks are the best choice. A good or legitimate KN95 or KF94 can perform comparably to an N95, providing significantly better respiratory protection than a surgical or cloth mask.
Although consumers report that N95 masks are harder to find and more expensive than surgical masks, those downsides are mitigated because consumers can safely wear N95-type masks for up to a week (40 hours).
You can also access other free COVID-19 resources at ECRI’s COVID-19 Resource Center. Stay informed and stay safe.