The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which critics have accused of providing changing and unclear instructions throughout the epidemic, stated on its website “that consumers can pick respirators such as N95s and KN95s, including addressing concerns linked to supply shortages for N95s.”
The CDC advises Americans to “use the most protective mask you can that fits properly and that you will wear regularly.”
The United States leads the world in COVID-19 deaths – roughly 850,000 – even as it battles a surge of cases involving the fast-spreading Omicron coronavirus variant. Complicating matters is the refusal of some Americans to get vaccinated.
President Joe Biden said on Thursday that the federal government plans to make “high-quality masks” available to Americans for free. In another step, the White House on Friday said the government will begin shipping 500 million COVID-19 tests to Americans later this month without charge.
The CDC said it wants to encourage Americans to wear masks rather than push them to wear the highest-grade face protection, but also explicitly said that respirators provide the best level of protection. It said that “loosely woven cloth products provide the least protection.”
“Masking is a critical public health tool to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and it is important to remember that any mask is better than no mask,” the CDC added.
The CDC said the revised recommendations “reflect the science on masking, including what we have learned in the past two years,” since the start of the pandemic.
More Americans have been recently opting for higher-grade protection amid the surge in cases.
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