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Health leaders recommend N95 and KN95 masks for best protection against omicron variant

Published: Jan. 14, 2022 at 4:20 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - There is a renewed focus on masking up as health leaders weigh their options on mandates and recommendations.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is reportedly weighing whether to update mask recommendations to encourage people to wear KN95 or N95 masks.

Infectious disease physician and Shelby County Task Force member, Dr. Manoj Jain, says both N95 and KN95 masks are the best to use against the omicron variant.

“Because they allow the greatest amount of protection in not getting the virus particles in your mouth, face, and obviously respiratory tract,” said Jain.

Jain says for masks to be effective, they must fit around the nose and mouth. For children, he suggests tying the ear loops for a better fit. He says hospitals will typically have N95 masks on hand.

Jain says KN95 masks may be a bit more comfortable to wear for the average person.

“This is another N95 mask which health care workers use often,” he explained.

Both masks are better than surgical masks. But he says surgical masks are better than cloth masks.

Overall, he agrees with CDC Director Rochelle Walensky’s statement on masks earlier this week.

“The CDC continues to recommend that any mask is better than no mask and we do encourage all Americans to wear a well-fitting mask,” said Walensky.

The White House is also expected to share plans to distribute masks to the public in the coming days. It’s a move that Jain feels is the right one.

“Making more masks available will really help those who may not be able to afford the masks, and sometimes it is hard to find the KN95 or the N95 masks,” Jain said.

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