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After receiving an email from a friend in Germany about how they now need to wear N95 masks in stores and public transportation and then learning that Lufthansa is going to start requiring passengers to wear N95 masks starting February 1st, I alerted readers yesterday that I think it would be smart to buy some N95 masks before the panic shopping sets in again.
Just a few minutes after I sent the tip out, I started getting all kinds of questions from readers via email and tweets. The feedback ranged from questions about which mask to buy to criticism about recommending N95 masks since they’re needed by healthcare workers. I appreciate all feedback and the questions prompted me to reach out to an expert for more information.
I asked Dr. Jonathan Reiner (who just so happens to follow me on Twitter and, more importantly, is Professor of Medicine and Surgery at The George Washington School of Medicine & Health Sciences and a CNN Medical Analyst) whether the general public should wear an N95 or a KN95 face mask and he tweeted back: “I would absolutely recommend an N-95 or KN-95 mask.” FYI: Some experts even go so far as to say that N95 masks are the way to end the pandemic.
I would absolutely recommend an N-95 or KN-95 mask.
— Jonathan Reiner (@JReinerMD) January 22, 2021
To answer another reader’s question, I followed up with: “Where do you recommend getting them? Amazon? Particular brand? Thanks again!” Dr. Reiner replied, “I don’t have a go to source. If you can find genuine 3M masks, that would be ideal.”
I don’t have a go to source. If you can find genuine 3M masks, that would be ideal.
— Jonathan Reiner (@JReinerMD) January 22, 2021
Then lo and behold, a few hours later, more stories started popping up on TV after the news from Germany hit our shores. Below is a clip from Dr. Sanjay Gupta on CNN that answers lots of questions you probably have.
What exactly are N95 masks and should we all be wearing them? Here are the pros and cons: pic.twitter.com/LfhQara0NP
— Dr. Sanjay Gupta (@drsanjaygupta) January 22, 2021
-If you can’t get an N95 mask, then wear a KN95 mask, which is almost as good.
-If you get the N95 with a valve, wear a surgical mask over it so you don’t pollute the air with your germs.
-It’s important to wear both masks properly, which is not easy. If worn properly, it’s almost impossible to get the virus. Here’s how to properly put them on and take them off.
It does sound like the new mutated virus from the UK is more dangerous, which is why it appears the USA will probably start making more N95 masks and could possibly require them like they do in other countries.
What’s the difference between N95 and KN95?
While people tend to refer to N95s and KN95s as face masks, technically, they are respirators that completely seal to your skin and require proper fitting, while cloth face masks act as a barrier to keep particles and droplets away. The difference between N95s and KN95s s largely comes down to regulatory standards. N95s are regulated by National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) in the U.S. whereas KN95s are typically regulated by the Chinese government. According to Men’s Health, N95 and KN95 respirators “filter out 95 percent of particles that are 0.3 microns or larger in diameter, explains Dr. Michael Schivo, a pulmonologist and an associate professor of internal medicine at UC Davis Health. “That’s important because most bacteria are larger than 0.3 microns,” he says. “Many virus particles are small, and some are smaller than 0.3 microns, but they’re suspended in water droplets that make them effectively bigger. So these masks filter out 95 percent of those small particles.” Read the whole article here.
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