ASHEVILLE, NC – At the January 5 media Question & Answer session, Buncombe County Public Health Director Stacie Saunders encouraged the use of medical-grade face masks over cloth masks. At the recent January 12 media Question & Answer session, she said that the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services has recently sent N95 medical-grade face masks to Buncombe County. These masks will be distributed with 5,000 newly arrived home tests kits. Buncombe County will join Milwaukee, New York City, Salt Lake City and Connecticut in giving out free N95 face masks to its residents.
Wearing a face mask is still considered one of the most important public health measures to lessen the spread of COVID-19. It needs to be worn correctly over the nose and mouth to be effective. In response to the recent surge of infections, the Buncombe County Board extended the face mask policy for indoor public spaces and, on January 14, the CDC posted new guidelines that cloth masks are not as effective as surgical masks or N95 respirators. The agency recommends that Americans “wear the most protective mask that fits well and that you can wear consistently.”
An N95 respirator is considered the gold standard of medical-grade face masks for the ability to block 95% of very small particles and 99.8% of smaller particles the size of the COVID-19 virus because of its high filtration capacity and snug facial fit. In contrast, 2-layer cotton masks only stop 40 to 60%. N95s have been also been shown to be the most effective face covering at suppressing the transmission of the more contagious Delta and Omicron strains. In a recent op-ed in the Washington Post, the authors write that “the masks are easy to breathe in, and they’re easy to find now, too.” The KN95 mask is a face covering that looks similar to the N95 and is almost as effective. KN95 masks are better than surgical masks and cloth masks.
Contact: Dick Needleman, Health reporter, 103.3 AshevilleFM firstname.lastname@example.org