As we swiftly approach two years of pandemic life, it’s easy to feel bummed that things we safely rediscovered in 2021 — indoor dining! real vacations! a fleeting sense of normalcy!— have been thwarted by the Omicron variant. One more thing that has been added back into the fold: Plenty of talk about face masks, mostly to do with why they’re more important than ever nowadays.
You already know that Omicron is 100% That B*tch when it comes to being highly transmissible, so allow us to briefly school you on the CDC’s mask guidelines: A minimum of two layers, construction that snugly covers the nose and mouth, and a nose wire to ensure a proper fit and that air doesn’t get in. You also have likely seen health experts recommending ditching cloth masks for ones that offer a higher level of filtration, such as disposable N95 or KN95s. Luckily, KN95s are largely available (and not as meh as you may think), and are an excellent, relatively affordable way to ensure that the only thing positive in your life is your outlook on the future of the pandemic.
As we hinted at before, the KN95 is among the best masks out there to keep you protected from COVID-19. (The 95 is for 95% of particles that these masks can filter.) This is largely to do with the multi-layer construction; N95s and KN95s have five layers between you and the outside world. In comparison, a standard surgical mask has three. Another reason is the style of the mask itself; turns out, the duck bill-shape isn’t just a funky style statement — the conical design tends to create a better seal around the nose and mouth when compared to a basic cloth or surgical mask, which tend to be flat, rectangular shapes that bend laterally across the face. (I personally find KN95 quite comfortable for this reason, since pointed tip also feels more breathable than other masks.)
How can I make sure my KN95 is not counterfeit?
Per the CDC, be sure to look for KN95 masks that meet requirements similar to those set by CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) for respirators. (FYI: Not all KN95 masks sold in the U.S. meet these requirements.) An easy way to verify if your mask is legit is to look for the NIOSH logo on the mask packaging. That being said, any mask is better than forgoing one at all, so even if you have to suit up with a surgical mask, remember that it’s better than nothing,
How should my KN95 mask feel on?
Your KN95 should feel snug and fit over your nose and mouth, and when properly adjusted, there should be no gaps of air flowing near your nose or the sides of the mask. (You can check for any pockets of air by cupping your hands around the sides of the mask.) Once you’ve fitted the nose wire, you should be able to feel warm air come through the front of the mask and may be able to see the mask material move in and out with each breath.
Article by Karina Hoshikawa for Refinery 29©
To find where to purchase masks, click the link below.