It’s becoming increasingly clear that we need to up our collective game on mask wearing if we are to minimize the transmission of COVID-19, especially with these new more contagious variants circulating ever more widely.
There have been several articles and interviews recently in major media outlets talking about what is needed to do better. (One example: https://www.npr.org/2021/01/26/960855995/some-health-experts-suggest-double-masking-as-new-coronavirus-variants-spread) Bottom line: those simple cloth face coverings that we were encouraging everyone to wear last spring were better than nothing, but they’re not good enough now. Now that there’s so much more virus circulating, with much greater risk of transmission, it’s safer for everyone to wear better protection.
The best mask, the N95 respirator, is still reserved for hospital and other medical workers’ use. For the public, the KN95 mask is next best, and could be worn with a surgical mask indoors or in high-risk settings. The two together are highly effective. If you don’t have a KN95 mask, wear a surgical mask and a cloth mask. Alternatively, look for a cloth mask with a filter pocket and use some kind of filter that is very fine.
I know it seems frustrating to get mixed messages but the reality is that scientists are learning more and more all the time about this virus and what is needed to reduce or eliminate transmission. And of course the virus itself is changing. It behooves us to change to meet and defeat it.