What are the different types of face masks/coverings?
This post describes the different types of face mask and coverings that are widely seen during this pandemic. It describes the three main types : Cloth masks, medical masks and N95 respirators. It also discusses when you might need a face mask.
Cloth or Paper Masks
These masks help slow the spread of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 and help keep people who unknowingly have the virus from transmitting it to others. Thick, densely woven cottons are good materials for cloth masks.
Procedural and Surgical Masks
These are loose-fitting masks designed to cover the mouth and nose.
Although they are not close fitting, the blue disposable masks commonly seen are fluid resistant and provide some protection from larger respiratory droplets from coughs and sneezes. Primarily, they help prevent the wearer from spreading infectious droplets to others. Like N95 respirators, these masks are used by health care workers whose safety depends on an adequate supply. They cannot be washed.
Called N95 respirators, these medical devices help prevent exposure to tiny droplets that can be suspended in the air. Health care workers who wear them undergo a fit-test to find the right make, model and size to ensure a tight seal. N95 respirators should be reserved for health care providers and first responders.
What is a face shield?
A face shield is a piece of rigid, clear plastic attached to a headband. The plastic piece covers the face, extending to below the chin.
You might have seen face shields on some health care providers, even before the COVID-19 pandemic. Dentists and dental hygienists sometimes wear them when working close to patients’ mouths. Doctors, nurses and technologists might use face shields, together with face masks, when performing procedures that could propel blood or other substances into the air.
Should I wear a face shield?
In general, if you wear a mask and maintain physical distancing of at least 6 feet between you and other people when in public places, you do not need a face shield. Wearing a mask will help contain your respiratory droplets. Avoid close contact with anyone who is not wearing a mask. If you must be in close contact with someone not wearing a mask, then a face shield or other type of eye protection may provide some additional protection from virus transmission.
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