With health experts recommending higher quality masks, which should you choose?

Published: Feb. 3, 2022 at 8:52 PM PST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

PORTLAND, Ore. (KPTV) - With the continued surge of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, health experts across the country have recommended people turn to more effective masks to slow the spread of the highly infectious variant.

The CDC also recently adjusted its masking guidelines, mentioning that N95 masks are effective at preventing transmission of COVID-19, and should no longer be reserved for medical personnel.

“With the most contagious variant that’s spreading right now, it’s important that we select the best mask possible,” said Jason Boudreault, Chief Operating Officer at Merilogy Inc., a California manufacturer that produces N95 masks. “Now that the government has come out and said, ‘hey, you know what, cloth masks are not a thing. You know? We really need to be thinking above surgical masks as far as protection.’ And really the N95 is the gold standard.”

There are other options available that also offer better filtration, like the popular KN95 mask produced in China and the Korean made KF94 mask, but Boudreault said quality control is a concern when it comes to masks that are manufactured overseas and not held to N95 standards.

A recent analysis by the nonprofit Emergency Care Research Institute found 70% of Chinese KN95 masks don’t meet minimum U.S. standards for effectiveness. N95 masks, meanwhile, are inspected and regulated by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, or NIOSH.

Fred Meyer announced this week it is partnering with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to hand out up to three non-surgical N95 masks to customers free of charge.