The 4 Best Face Masks for Omicron That Meet the CDC's New Guidelines
The rapid surge in COVID-19 cases due to Omicron may have you wondering whether masks protect against the new variant. While face coverings may not be as efficient against the super transmissible Omicron, experts say, the good news is that face masks still offer protection against all variants (including the new dominant strain), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"Omicron produces more virus, even than Delta," William Schaffner, MD, a professor of health policy and infectious diseases at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, previously told Health. This increase in viral load may make it more difficult for a face covering to stop the transmission of COVID-19, making it extra important to wear a proper face mask.
Per the CDC, this means selecting a face mask made with "at least two layers of washable, breathable fabric" that covers the mouth and nose, has a nose wire, and fits snugly with no gaps. Although these attributes extend to a wide range of options, there is a superior face covering option. As of January 2022, the CDC now recommends opting for a properly fitted respirators for the "highest level of protection." These include N95 respirators, along with their Chinese (KN95) or Korean equivalents (KF94. Unlike cloth coverings, these masks don't just offer a barrier from spreading your germs, but they actually trap most incoming ones, according to the Federal Drug and Food Administration (FDA).
These are the 4 best face masks for Omicron:
Although you'll feel better about your level of protection with a respirator, it's extra important to keep an eye out for counterfeit respirators. If you're worried about accidentally purchasing a fake, you can also increase your mask's efficiency by double masking. A 2021 study published by the CDC found that layering a disposable surgical mask with a cloth mask increases their ability to block airborne particles by nearly 30% (versus when worn individually).
Ready to maximize your protection against COVID-19? Scroll down to discover the best high-filtration face masks for Omicron that have each been previously vetted by Health.
The information in this story is accurate as of press time. However, as the situation surrounding COVID-19 continues to evolve, it's possible that some data have changed since publication. While Health is trying to keep our stories as up-to-date as possible, we also encourage readers to stay informed on news and recommendations for their own communities by using the CDC, WHO, and their local public health department as resources.
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