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I just bought a pullover face & neck mask thinking it would be protective, but now I read that a "gaiter" or fleece mask (not sure if they're the same thing) are the worst, along with bandanas. Comments, anyone?
Isn't it safer to wear a N-95? I have an N-99, but Mayo Clinic won't let you wear it inside because they say it protects you but not other people from your air. So I don't think the cloth masks they hand out give much protection….Be nice is someone who knows chimed it.
This situation has been a mess, with the CDC first saying they weren't necessary..
Also, why doesn't insurance cover them? Since they are now "medically necessary?"
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@rarelybees2889– As you know, insurance companies are covering less and less and charging more and more. Natural disasters aren't usually covered by insurance. The standard masks that are considered "safe" for everyone are N-95. Read @sueinmn posts on this discussion. You will find that she knows a lot because her daughter keeps her informed.
@merpreb Merry – N-95 are certified in the US. KN-95 masks are certified in China, supposed to be to the same standards as in the US, so they should be equivalent. They wear the double masks as an extra precaution to protect the KN-95 from contamination by patient droplets while their masks are off for cleaning & dental procedures. So far, so good for them – it has been 10 weeks since reopening, and no one on the staff has been infected.
However, the N-95 industrial masks with the exhaust port, like I wear when working with soil, are not meant to be used for Covid-19 protection of other people, because the port allows droplets to escape while preventing inhalation of particles (it's why they are more comfortable than medical N-95 masks – moisture doesn't build up in them.)
@sueinmn– Good morning Sue. You are correct. Masks that are worn that have ports do not protect others.
As they say, something is "probably" better than nothing. But that, too, is questionable. I'm not sure, I'll go back to the NY Post article because I remember (I think) reading something about wearing a particular type of mask is worse than no mask. Maybe I'm wrong about remembering that, however when I have time I will check. The cloth masks I ordered from Etsy also have additional filters which I am purty sure help.
OK, here's a bit more from the article I read. It said that N95 masks, often used by health care professionals, worked best to stop the transmission of respiratory droplets during regular speech. Followed by three-layer surgical masks and cotton masks, which can be made at home, the researchers with Duke’s physics department found. BUT — and here is where I'm a little confused — they discovered that neck fleeces, or neck gaiters, often worn by runners, were the least effective and actually allowed more respiratory droplets to escape than not wearing a mask at all. (Hmmm, I wonder. Article can be found at: https://nypost.com/2020/08/09/scientists-tested-14-types-of-masks-in-preventing-spread-of-covid-19/
A number of vapor tests have been done recently, and yes, the N-95 masks (without exhaust port) are the best protection, but are still in too short supply for all of us to have and use. The hospitals, clinics and dentist offices are still insisting that patient-facing staff who wear them make them last at least all day, if not for multiple days at a time. When they were used per-Covid, masks were discarded and replaced between patients in infectious situations (like with MRSA patients or immuno-compromised patients.)
Other masks that tested well (not quite as good as N-95) were surgical masks (the multi-layer disposable type) and cloth masks made of multiple layers of tightly woven cotton or cotton blend fabrics. Masks that did a poor job of keeping droplets from spreading were bandanas and the "gaiter" type or other masks made of fleece or knit fabric.
We wear 3-layer clothe masks for everyday use, we have several different styles, with different type of ties/elastic depending on how they will be used on a particular day. We also have a small supply of N-95 masks which we use when exposed to soil due to lung issues. We are safeguarding those to use in case one of us becomes ill.
It must also be noted that masks are ONLY effective if they cover your face snugly from above the nostrils to the chin so as little vapor escapes as possible. Also, a mask that becomes wet from your breath should be replaced with a clean, dry one as wet masks are not as effective. Discard the soiled mask or bag it for washing & wash or sanitize your hands after handling it. Reusable masks should washed very frequently by hand or machine. Air drying is fine – the soap & water kill the virus. After a day of errands or visiting with my kids/grands, we may have as many as 6 masks to wash.
@cindiwass– Wearing a mask with a valve that lets your breath out is worse because it defeats the purpose of protecting others. Protecting others from the droplets of your breath, whether you are talking, sneezing or coughing is the purpose for wearing masks.
Here is a link to "How and when" to use masks safely
What is also important are the filters that you use, if any. What are you using?
I have been working on my mask system for awhile. This is a KN95 with the straps pulled off with a handmade cotton facemask cover. It holds the KN95 on my face and the KN95 helps me to breathe. Plus the KN95 actually protects me from other people. I couldn't stand how the cotton masks got sucked into my nose and mouth and that made breathing difficult. So the structure of the KN95 helps a lot. The KN95s also don't have the best straps and they fall off easily. But I don't need the straps with my cotton facemask cover.
@ihatediabetes Wow, that's a really great solution! I think I'll show it to my daughters, who always have trouble with the straps on their N-95 masks.
This looks fantastic @ihatediabetes. There are so many different opinions, are you certain that the KN95 protects you too?
Absolutely. KN95s are supposed to be equivalent to N95 masks. You just need to make sure they are real. I heard you can test them by trying to blow out a candle while wearing the mask. Also I am thinking of getting some double-sided tape so I can tack down the KN95 to the cotton cover.
@ihatediabetes– How will I know if they are real?
@merpreb My dentist's office says to buy them from a US company that tests them, and doesn't just accept the label. According to them, the ad should say something like "US tested." I just started looking for some – if I find what looks like a good source, I'll let you know.
PS Be wary of anyone selling "3M N-95 Medical Masks" – according to my sister who works there, even employees cannot buy them for personal use – the entire supply is committed to the medical industry – if you can find them you will pay a very high price per mask – in the area of $6-10 each (I used to pay $1.25 in quantity of 20.) You can still get a limited amount of the 3M industrial ones with exhaust port for yard work and similar – we see them at our paint stores, but again for a quite inflated price.
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