CDC to update advice on the best masks, but just wants you to wear one, any of them

A masked woman in a business suit.
Enlarge / Dr Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, testifies during a Senate Committee hearing on Health, Education, Work and Pensions on Capitol Hill on January 11, 2022 in Washington, DC.

As cases of the ultra-transmissible variant of the omicron coronavirus continue to rise in the United States, many experts have urged Americans to upgrade their masks to better protect themselves – that is, to abandon cloth masks. handcrafted items that were all the rage in Spring 2020 for options like the top-quality N95s and KN95s which are now no longer available.

Noting this change, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said today it is working to update the guiding masks on its website, which has not been updated since last fall, before omicron’s rise. Meanwhile, the White House is actively considering supplying high-quality masks to Americans.

At a press briefing on Wednesday, White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeffrey Zients gave few details on what a federal mask distribution program might look like or when it might happen, noting only : “We are seriously considering options to make more high quality masks available to all Americans.”

Any future mask distribution will be far too late to stop the tsunami of omicron cases now dominating the United States. But it could help Americans recover from the wave faster and avoid future waves as SARS-CoV-2 takes hold, as experts expect.

Still, the hope that Americans will easily wear high-quality masks, even if they are distributed free by the government, seems overly optimistic. The use of masks in various settings has been one of the most controversial and controversial disease prevention methods throughout the pandemic. Unfortunately, they remain so even in the third year of the pandemic and after numerous studies have indicated their effectiveness in helping to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

While the CDC’s next mask update will likely highlight the superior effectiveness of high-quality masks, double masking, and fitted masks, the CDC has made it clear that it will settle for almost any type of masking. , as long as the mask covers the mouths and noses.

During the White House press briefing, CDC director Rochelle Walensky spoke clearly, saying the agency’s mask website “needs updating at this time.” But, she continued, “What I will say is the best mask you can … wear is the one you will wear and the one you can keep on all day – that you can tolerate in public, in the open. inside and tolerate where you have to wear it. “

“We will provide information on the improvement in filtration that occurs with other masks, such as N95s, and information the public needs on how to choose the right mask for them,” added Dr Walensky. But overall, the “CDC continues to recommend that any mask is better than no mask.”

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