Updated: Jan 30
The newer more contagious coronavirus variants first identified in the United Kingdom, South Africa, and Brazil has now been confirmed to be present in 29 states across the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). During a press conference today, the new CDC Director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, confirmed there are 329 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant. This new viral variant threatens to further strain our already overburdened hospitals and emergency care health systems. The B.1.1.7 variant can reportedly spread quicker and infect more people, which could lead to more COVID-19 cases and more death. These new variants will require all of us to be even more vigilant in our prevention measures, to slow the spread of COVID-19. Some health care professionals are now sounding the alarm to make N95 masks available to all Americans, to help slow the spread of the newer virus variants. N95 masks or respirators provide the best protection against airborne particles and liquid from contaminating the mucous membranes. However, these masks are hard to find, expensive, and they must be fitted properly to be effective.
Health professionals and infectious disease experts are now recommending everyone wear two three-layer surgical masks or N95 masks when going out in public. In addition to wearing a mask, please continue to follow all the other recommended safety precautions like hand washing and social distancing. These new viral variants will require new strategies to keep all of us safe. I am providing links (below) to some websites, where you can purchase N95 masks, a gadget to secure surgical masks, and links to purchase reusable elastomeric masks, which provide a gel-like cushion around your face for better protection from contagious aerosols. The elastomeric masks last longer, are more comfortable, and they fit better on your face. The CDC recommends elastomeric masks to help provide protection from viral aerosols. You can learn more about the use of reusable elastomeric masks from the CDC here.
N95 Mask Company (offers discounts to teachers and federal employees)
Envo Mask (reusable N95 mask)
Soft Seal N95 Masks (reusable elastomeric mask)
Elastomeric masks are reusable and provide a gel-like cushion around your face, and the filter material is a separate piece. Elastomeric masks are available, they last longer, and they fit better than the N95 masks/respirators.
Costco N95 Masks (You must have a membership or go with someone who has a membership)
Fix the Mask (helps create a tight seal for three-layer surgical masks)
A lot of people wear masks under their nose and are putting themselves and others at risk because air and aerosols can leak out or in the mask.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2020, October). Elastomeric Respirators: Strategies During Conventional and Surge Demand Situations. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/elastomeric-respirators-strategy/index.html
Disclosure: (I am a writer and editor for the National Institutes of Health. Information contained in this blog post are not associated with my role at NIH).