CDC says cloth masks are less protective than other face coverings

CDC says cloth masks are less protective than other face coverings

Cloth face coverings are less effective at protecting against COVID-19 than surgical masks and respirators, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday in a guidance update.

The agency has urged Americans to wear N95 or KN95 masks — so named because they filter out 95% of airborne particles — to slow the spread of the virus.

These types of masks provide more protection than “loosely woven fabric” face coverings, the CDC said.

“Loosely woven fabric products offer the least protection, thinly woven layered products offer more protection, tight-fitting disposable surgical masks and KN95s offer even more protection, and tight-fitting NIOSH-approved respirators (including including N95) offer the highest level of protection. ”

N95s and KN95s were previously prioritized for healthcare workers, but the agency said there was no longer a supply shortage issue.

View of hands holding pm 2.5 face protection mask and ready to use
The CDC recommends wearing medical clothing such as N95 and KN95 masks.
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This is the CDC’s first update on face coverings since last September – before the global surge of the Omicron variant – when the agency urged the use of N95 disposable face coverings if sufficient supplies were available. .

Respirators are encouraged for people visiting the elderly or immunocompromised, those caring for someone sick with the virus, those traveling by plane or public transport, or when social distancing is not possible.

If a respirator mask is not available, the CDC has recommended wearing a disposable mask under a cloth mask.

The CDC headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia.
The CDC previously updated existing COVID-19 protocols, such as reducing the quarantine period for those vaccinated.
REUTERS/Tami Chappell/File

Officials said any face covering will be effective as long as it fits correctly, is comfortable and is worn correctly.

“Our main message continues to be that any mask is better than no mask,” Kristen Nordlund, a CDC spokeswoman, said in a statement.

The CDC also said “surgical N95s” are a specific type of respirator that should be reserved for health care settings, such as in an operating room, and not generally available to the public.

Different types of protective mask on blue background
N95 and KN95 masks were in short supply at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
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Blue disposable surgical masks.
The CDC has argued that disposable surgical masks block COVID-19 more than cloth masks.
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President Biden announced Thursday that his administration is working to make “high-quality masks,” including N95s, available to Americans free of charge. More details will be announced next week.

Biden told reporters that “next week we will announce … how we are making high-quality masks available to the American people for free. I know we all wish we could finally be done with wearing masks. I understand.”

The federal government has a stockpile of more than 750 million N95 masks, the White House said.

Cloth masks (handmade) for the pandemic in different designs and colors, top view
The CDC said cloth masks are fine as long as a disposable surgical mask is worn underneath.
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With post wires