"Loosely woven cloth products provide the least protection, layered finely woven products offer more protection, well-fitting disposable surgical masks and KN95s offer even more protection, and well-fitting (National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety)-approved respirators (including N95s) offer the highest level of protection," the CDC says.The updated guidelines note that "a highly protective mask or respirator may be most important for certain higher risk situations, or by some people at increased risk for severe disease." This includes: When you are caring for someone who has Covid-19When you're on an airplane or public transportation, especially for a long periodWhen you're working at a job where you come into contact with a lot of people, especially when not everyone else is maskedWhen you're not up-to-date on Covid-19 vaccinesIf you have a risk factor for severe illness like a weakened immune system or a certain medical conditionWhen you're in a crowded public place, either indoors or outdoorsMasks still aren't recommended for children under 2, but the CDC "recommends universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of their vaccination status or the area's transmission rates."The updated guidelines offer tips for getting a better fit and more protection, such as: Wear two masks (a cloth mask on top of a disposable one).Combine a cloth or disposable mask with a fitter or brace.
Knot and tuck ear loops of cloth masks where they meet the edge of the mask.Fold and tuck extra material on disposable masks under the edges.Use masks that attach behind the head and neck with elastic bands or ties (rather than ear loops).
The CDC says consumers looking for masks that meet quality standards can look for certain labels like "meets ASTM F3502" or "meets workplace performance," and they can go to a National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health website to get more information on personal protective equipment The agency also says certain respirators don't meet international standards and has links to sites for more details.Specially labeled "surgical" N95s "should be reserved for use by healthcare personnel," the CDC says."These updates to our webpage reflect the science on masking, including what we have learned in the past two years," the agency said in the statement.
"We will continue to share the science of masking as it becomes available."