LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now encouraging people to wear “the most protective mask you can.” It’s a new recommendation as cases of the highly transmissible omicron variant keep adding up.
The Southern Nevada Health District says the medical-grade N95 or the KN95 offer the best protection because they seal tight around the face. If you’re wondering about the difference between the two — the N95 is certified by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health and uses head straps. Here is the CDC’s guide for spotting fake N95s. The KN95 is certified in China and is typically for commercial use. It has ear loops. You do have to be careful of counterfeits. Both masks filter 95% of airborne particles.
They should also be thrown away after five uses.
There is also the KF94 mask which is made in Korea and designed for the consumer market. It filters 94% of airborne particles. If purchasing this mask, you will want to make sure it is manufactured in Korea where the masks are heavily regulated, which lowers the chance of buying a fake.
N95 masks are not made for children. KN95 and KF94 masks have styles for children.
Clark County is reporting more daily cases than the same time last year. The current positivity rate has climbed to 35.9% compared to 21.5% at the same time last year.
The health district says holiday gatherings and travel likely led to the surge. It could take several more weeks before it starts to taper down.
The omicron variant is more transmissible than previous variants and because of that health officials are urging the use of medical-grade masks.
“The problem with the N95 and the KN95 masks is they may be hard for people to get and even if people have access to them they may not be very comfortable,” said Dr. Cort Lohff, chief medical officer, SNHD.
If you can’t get an N95 or KN95 mask, health experts say a surgical mask that is looser-fitting and flat can be used in combination with a cloth mask over the top of it to provide extra protection and a better seal around the face.