The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has updated its consumer face mask information, encouraging members of the public to use the most highly protective mask that they can comfortably wear and more clearly stating that some masks offer a superior level of protection.
Community spread has a direct effect on COVID-19 infection control in nursing facilities, and how the public is protecting itself from infection can make a difference in the safety of facility residents and staff. In new language on its “Types of Masks and Respirators” webpage, the CDC has removed concerns about supply shortages for N95s and clarified that the public can choose respirators such as N95s and KN95s.
The webpage information appears to straddle a line between encouraging mask wearing and turning off skeptical members of the public. The CDC emphasizes the role of fit in mask performance and states that wearing any of the mask types described is effectively better than wearing no mask.
“Some masks and respirators offer higher levels of protection than others, and some may be harder to tolerate or wear consistently than others. It is most important to wear a well-fitted mask or respirator correctly that is comfortable for you and that provides good protection,” the guidance states.
The public is advised that “surgical N95s” are a specific type of respirator that should be reserved for healthcare settings.
More information including a summary of the changes can be found here.
Much of the information on personal protective equipment for healthcare workers reached from a CDC landing page has remained unchanged since the fall of 2021 or earlier. A list of NIOSH-approved N95 respirators for workers is updated weekly and can be found here.