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Virus Experts Say Wear This Kind of Mask Now

The N95 Mask is safer, says Dr. Michael Osterholm and others.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Now that even vaccinated people are being advised, by the CDC, to wear face masks in areas where COVID is highly concentrated, you may be surprised to find out that not all masks are created equal. With the Delta variant "more transmissible," your choice may save your life, or raise your risk. Read on for which masks the experts recommend—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You Have "Long" COVID and May Not Even Know It.

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Virus Expert Says N95 Masks are the Gold Standard

Woman in a restaurant with face protection mask kn95.
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"I think this has been a difficult message for many of us—what kind of mask you're using," Dr. Michael Osterholm, Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, told Meet the Press. As for regular old cloth masks: "You know, I would tell you if the old car you have has seatbelts, and that's it, use it. But if you can get a modern car that has a seat belt harness, a collapsible body frame, airbags, a computer system to reduce your speed with an impending crash and shard glass so you don't get cut, use that. And we've not paid any attention really to giving the public the message that you need much more effective masking such as the N95 masks that we talk about, or the KN95 for kids. Masking is very important right now. Remember, while vaccination is still the number one, two, and three weapons we have, if even everyone got vaccinated today, the search would go on as it is right now for the next four to six weeks, because these people would not yet have immunity. So what they can do today though, is mask."

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Virus Expert Warns Cloth Masks Only Provide Some Protection

Young woman shows self-made face mask.
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Host Chuck Todd held up his mask, an "ordinary one" he bought on Amazon and said, "Not good?" "Well, let's put it this way," said Osterholm. "If you were in a room with someone who is smoking, would you smell it? It is an aerosol that and you know how they travel. You've walked down the street, you suddenly get the whiff of smoke and you see somebody 20 feet in front of you. And so that's the test we have now. A cloth mask can give you some protection, but it's not the kind of protection that you had when you use a much more effective mask. We have not talked about that nearly enough."

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Virus Expert Warns Wearing Your Mask Under Your Nose is Nothing More Than a "Diaper For Your Chin"

woman in a medical mask on her face during the pandemic outdoors
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Osterholm has been "looking at the public use of masks. We find routinely 20 to 25% of the population, when they came to wear the mask under their nose, that's nothing more than a diaper chip for your chin. And so I think that what we want to do is inform people yes, mask, but most importantly, give them the information about how they can get the more effectively use the masks."

RELATED: Dr. Fauci Just Predicted What Will Happen Next

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Virus Expert Says Look for K95 Masks for Kids

 Child girl wearing a protection mask against coronavirus
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"With respect to masks, first of all, I'd still be looking at higher quality masks," said Scott Gottlieb, the former head of the FDA, last week on Face the Nation. "The Utah Governor recently announced that he's making available to every school KN95 masks. And I think most governors will not be mandating masks, but they're leaving discretion to local officials to implement masks depending on what the local circumstances are. And I think that that's the prudent step that we should be doing."

RELATED: These 9 States to Have Next Outbreak, Virus Expert Warns

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How to Stay Safe Out There

Doctor Giving Older Woman Corona Virus Vaccine Injection In Hospital
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Follow the public health fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated ASAP; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear an N95 face mask, don't travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Alek Korab
Alek Korab is a Co-Founder and Managing Editor of the ETNT Health channel on Eat This, Not That! Read more