(RxWiki News) Health officials have made some changes to recommendations about face masks during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Masks are still considered one of the top COVID-19 prevention tools, but as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has learned more about how the virus works, it has modified its recommendations.
The agency kicked off 2022 with a few changes to its recommendations, but the overall point of masking up remained the same.
"Masking is a critical public health tool to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and it is important to remember that any mask is better than no mask," the CDC wrote in a press release announcing the masking guidance changes. "To protect yourself and others from COVID-19, CDC continues to recommend that you wear the most protective mask you can that fits well and that you will wear consistently."
One of the key changes to the CDC's masking guidance was the addition of information about respirators like N95s and KN95s. Early in the pandemic, the US and other countries experienced extreme shortages of these respirators, and the CDC advised against using them unless you were a health care professional, citing supply concerns.
Now, as supply shortages have eased, the CDC has eased up on this recommendation. However, the agency still maintained that so-called “surgical N95s” should only be used in health care settings.
The CDC also added information to its website to help the public understand the amount of protection the different types of masks and respirators may provide. A respirator that fits well offers the highest level of protection, according to the CDC.
"Loosely woven cloth products provide the least protection, layered finely woven products offer more protection, well-fitting disposable surgical masks and KN95s offer even more protection, and well-fitting NIOSH-approved respirators (including N95s) offer the highest level of protection," the CDC wrote on its website.
If you have questions about COVID-19, masks, respirators or related topics, speak with your health care provider.