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KN95 & N95 face masks recommended as COVID cases rise during omicron surge

The CDC is recommending KN95 and N95 masks over the cloth masks as COVID-19 cases, especially omicron variant, rise across the nation.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark — The omicron variant is causing health professionals to reconsider their face mask guidance. Thursday morning, Jan. 13, President Biden announced more than 200 million Americans received the COVID-19 vaccine.

But as more breakthrough cases are reported from the omicron variant the CDC says it's important to mask up. This time they're saying leave the cloth masks at home because they're not as effective against the omicron variant.

Health experts are no longer recommending cloths masks because of the omicron variant. They’re now recommending kn95 and n95 masks. The CDC has not yet recommended N95 to the public as their reserving them for frontline workers.

Dr. Dilaha with the Arkansas Department of Health explains the masks were originally worn to protect others.

 “I think one of the issues we’ve had is you know in the past we recommended people where a cloth mask. And the reason for that is cloth masks do a really good job of preventing the spread of COVID-19 through respiratory droplets. They protect not the wearer but the people the wearer is round," Dr. Dillaha with the Arkansas Department of health. 

With the omicron variant, there’s a larger need to protect the person wearing the mask. This new variant is taking on both the vaccinated and unvaccinated.

“Now we’re also interested in protecting the wearer of the mask. So the best way to protect the wearer is protect them with a mask that filters what they breathe in droplets,” Dr. Dillaha said. 

Since this advice was revised to wear KN95 masks, they’ve been hard to keep on the shelves. When looking for legitimate mask brands refer to the following three tips:

  •  Ensure the packaging is properly sealed.
  • No expiration date on the mask, because this type of supply is not supposed to go bad.
  • Make sure a label for KN95 or N95 is present on the mask. 

The biggest difference between N95 and KN95 masks is where they’re certified. KN95 masks are made in China while N95 masks are made in the US. Both masks filter out at least 95% of particles in the air.

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