Rising hospitalizations and positive COVID-19 tests have effectively disabused the anti-mask movement.
Early on in the pandemic, public health officials were unsure of the depth of their use. But as data sets increased it became abundantly clear that face coverings are our only hope at freeing up commercial markets ahead of projected economic downturn.
The indecision that remains pertains to mask material and application.
Double layer cotton masks, N-95, and K-95 masks are largely regarded as the best, so long as they’re efficiently made. To receive a US safety certification, a mask needs to be able to block 95% of viral particles dispelled from an infected subject.
Experts at a healthcare research firm called, ECRI recently assessed the utility of masks from 15 different manufacturers based out of China in the study linked just above. Their findings suggest that the majority of K-95 masks offer little protection for vulnerable populations who are frequently exposed to the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
The authors theorize that “hundreds of thousands of masks” are falsely advertised as being approved by public health systems.
“We’re finding that many aren’t safe and effective against the spread of COVID-19,” Dr. Marcus Schabacker, president, and CEO of ECRI explained in a press release. “Using masks that don’t meet U.S. standards puts patients and frontline healthcare workers at risk of infection.
Because of the dire situation, U.S. hospitals bought hundreds of thousands of masks produced in China over the past six months. As ECRI research shows, we strongly recommend that healthcare providers going forward do more due diligence before purchasing masks that aren’t made or certified in America, and we’re here to help them.”
Although a recent risk analysis published by the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), arrived at similar conclusions, all of the participating parties are confident that wearing counterfeit masks is still better than traveling with no mask at all.
Irrespective of the quality of your mask, it’s important to make sure it covers your mouth and the bridge of your nose. Striking the balance between security and comfortability is a good way to make sure you don’t fidget with it throughout the day. This is especially true for those occupying health care industries.
“KN95 masks that don’t meet US regulatory standards still generally provide more respiratory protection than surgical or cloth masks and can be used in certain clinical settings,” Michael Argentieri, vice president for technology and safety at ECRI, added.
“Hospitals and staff who treat suspected COVID-19 patients should be aware that imported masks may not meet current US regulatory standards despite marketing that says otherwise.”
Be sure to review the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s database of counterfeit masks and fraudulent manufacturers:
“Counterfeit respirators are products that are falsely marketed and sold as being NIOSH-approved and may not be capable of providing appropriate respiratory protection to workers.
“When NIOSH becomes aware of counterfeit respirators or those misrepresenting NIOSH approval on the market, we will post them here to alert users, purchasers, and manufacturers.”