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‘Well-fitting, high-quality’ mask recommended as omicron spreads in Washington

Dec 24, 2021, 9:26 AM | Updated: 9:27 am
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People pass a sign that reads "Face Mask Required" in a mall in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Wearing a face mask to limit the spread of COVID-19 is not new, but masks remain critical for protection against the rapidly spreading omicron variant.

Washington hospitals worried about capacity ahead of potential omicron wave

Public Health — Seattle & King County says since omicron is highly contagious, “well-fitting and high-quality face masks are more important than ever.”

In high-risk scenarios, King County public health staff recommend using the best quality and best-fitting mask you can get. That would include scenarios where you are in close and prolonged contact with people whose vaccination status is unknown, in crowded indoor settings, riding on transportation, working at a job where you interact with a large number of people, and if you are at an increased risk for severe illness.

Quality

The highest quality masks are N95, KN95, and KF94, provided they are genuine and have been tested to meet a standard. They are disposable, and can be more expensive. Beware of counterfeits. Project N95 is one source helping people to find a credible source for N95 and KN95 masks.

Surgical masks that have been tested to meet a national standard are the next best. These type of masks are also disposable.

Cloth masks must have at least two layers but still fall last in line for quality. These masks can be washed and re-used. Public health staff also suggests wearing a disposable mask underneath a cloth mask, but N95 and KN95 masks should not be layered.

Fit

With any type of mask, a snug fit is important. Masks that are loose or have gaps around your face or nose are not as helpful in protecting you or others.

Gov. Inslee says two blessings of 2021 holiday season are boosters, masks

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has additional mask guidance available here. Find more information about N95 and KN95 masks in a previous Public Health Insider blog post here.

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‘Well-fitting, high-quality’ mask recommended as omicron spreads in Washington