Information you Need: Mask Guideline Update

With the news of more contagious COVID-19 variants, it is more important than ever to follow face covering and mask guidelines. Cloth face coverings with multiple layers create a barrier for 50-70% of fine respiratory particles that are produced through breathing, talking, coughing, etc. 

Having a well-fitting cloth face covering or mask that fits SNUGLY to your face is key! Gaps around the edges make it easier to breathe, but defeat the purpose as they allow unfiltered air and droplets to move freely past the mask. 

Tips to ensure your mask is working effectively:

  1. Adjust Fit: Your mask should fit snugly and securely to prevent gaps around the edges. 
    1. A metal strip over the nose can be bent and shaped can help improve the fit.
    2. For disposable and surgical masks, use the knot and tuck technique to shape the mask to fit more snugly to your face.
    3. Tightening the ear loops or ties can help the mask fit more snugly to your head on all edges, especially against your cheeks. 
    4. Do not wear a mask with a valve, as this allows unfiltered air to pass through the mask, defeating the purpose of a snug fit. 
  2. Add layers: Ensure your face covering or mask has at least two layers, three may be better. 
    1. Do not wear two disposable masks at the same time as they will not fit snugly enough. 
    2. Add a surgical mask beneath your cloth face covering. The outside face covering must still fit snugly on all edges to provide protection.
    3. Make sure that you can still see and breathe with the additional layers.
  3. Use a KN95 respirator: These may provide greater protection and are widely available.
    1. The respirator must fit snugly to your face on all edges to provide the greatest protection.
    2. Be careful of knockoffs, as there are many products on the market which do not meet safety standards. Find FDA-approved KN95 here
    3. Do not combine KN95 masks with any other mask or face covering. 
    4. Note: “N95” respirators should still be reserved for healthcare workers and must be fit-tested prior to use.
  4. Make sure it’s comfortable! If you have to wear a mask for an extended period of time, it should be comfortable and fit well enough that it does not need to be adjusted often. 
    1. To reduce ear fatigue, you can use a paperclip to connect the ear loops behind your head or add silicone mask hooks to the earpieces of your glasses. 
    2. Adding an under-mask support frame can create space between the mask and your face to increase comfort and breathability. Ensure that the edges of your mask still snugly fit to your face when using a support frame.
    3. If you do touch or adjust your mask, be sure to wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before and after!

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