Mask Mandates Are Back – But What Kind Should You Be Wearing?

Image by Markus Winkler from Pixabay

As COVID-19 cases reach new highs, many businesses and communities are reinstating mask mandates. The highly infectious Delta variant – which is more contagious than chicken pox – is putting everyone at risk. That’s prompted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to recommend that even the fully vaccinated wear masks when indoors, especially if you live in a “hot spot” region. 

While the CDC does not offer suggestions on what type of mask to wear, Fast Company talked to a couple of infectious disease experts to get their take on which kind is best. Here’s a snapshot of what they say:

  • N95 (or K95) is the gold standard. They provide optimal protection, filtering out 95% of airborne particles. But that’s only if the mask is worn correctly – fitting tightly to your face. Many people find them uncomfortable and hard to breathe (because they filter air so effectively). There are many counterfeit versions of these masks on the market. You can check this database to make sure you are buying an authentic one. 
  • Surgical masks may be the next best choice. If worn correctly, they can filter up to 90% of airborne particles. The problem is because they are rectangle shaped, there tends to be a gap on the sides which allows air particles to enter. If you opt for surgical masks, be sure to watch a video tutorial from Today.com showing how to improve the fit by tying knots in the ear loops.
  • Cloth masks are comfortable and convenient. You want masks made of fabric with a tight weave. If you hold your mask up to the sun and see light coming through it, then it’s probably not filtering well enough to protect you. The experts also point out that you need to launder your masks.

Bottom line, any mask will provide important protection and the best mask is the one you will wear.

The Seniors Trust is committed to getting Congress to pass legislation to improve Social Security. We urge Congress to pass the Social Security Expansion Act. This landmark piece of legislation will provide bigger monthly Social Security benefits, establish a more realistic cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for seniors, and guarantee the long-term solvency of the Social Security program.