When it comes to protecting yourself and others from Covid-19, the type of mask you wear can make a big difference. Loose-fitting fabric products, such as scarves and bandanas, offer the least protection. Thin-layered products, such as cloth masks, offer more protection. Disposable surgical masks that fit well and KN95 masks offer even more protection.
The highest level of protection is provided by NIOSH-approved respirators, including N95 masks. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends wearing the most protective mask possible that fits you well and is comfortable. Respirators, such as non-surgical N95s, provide the most protection. KN95 and medical masks provide the next highest level of protection.
The CDC advises that N95 surgical masks should be reserved for healthcare providers.The Level 1 standard means that the mask filters at least 20 percent of all airborne particles smaller than 1 micrometer, while the Level 2 standard means that the mask filters at least 50 percent of those particles. While a surgical mask can be effective in blocking splashes and droplets of large particles, a face mask, by design, does not filter or block very small particles in the air that can be transmitted by coughing, sneezing, or certain medical procedures. N95 masks filter up to 95% of particles from the air when approved by NIOSH and a proper fit can be achieved.It is important to remember that wearing any type of face covering is only one part of a comprehensive approach to preventing the spread of Covid-19.Other measures include social distancing, frequent hand washing, and avoiding large gatherings.