French health troops are urging citizens to say Goodbye to cotton masks because they are simply not effective enough against new, potentially more contagious variants of COVID-19.
Instead, France’s health advisers have recommended that disposable surgical masks be worn. Experts here agree – and tell The Post that it is an important time to consider upgrading your mask choice.
A homemade mutation in the virus, called 20C-US, is thought to be responsible for up to 50 percent of all US cases – hitting the Midwest hardest, researchers said earlier this month. These findings come a day after researchers at Ohio State University said they discovered another strain of COVID-1
“As we evolve in this pandemic, we realize that no, not all masks are the same,” said Dr. Martin Cohen, Assistant Chair and Professor Professor at the University of Washington’s Department of Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences. In the spring, he conducted raw aerosol experiments on masking materials to find appropriate replacements in the absence of personal protective equipment (PPE).
So which ones are the best? Here’s a look at which masks will end up in 2021 as researchers learn more about the increasingly mutating virus.
“The gold standard, of course, is the N95 masks, regardless of the COVID strain,” said Dr. Rajesh Mohan, a cardiologist in New Jersey and author of “COVIDslayers: How We Can Win! And What Went Really Wrong?
It was also found to be the best mask in a comprehensive review of masks by researchers from Duke University over the summer.
It was the most effective of the herd on the logarithmic scale of the study.
These disposable surgical masks are also a good standby and significantly more comfortable than the face-matching N95s.
“The next best thing is surgical masks,” Mohan said. “If people wore them, there would be about a 70 percent drop in infection.”
The Duke researchers also found it to be the second most effective variety, ranging from 0 to 0.1 in terms of the particles scattered from talking while carrying one.
KN95 or KF94
Minnesota-based mechanical engineer Aaron Collins, who wrote his master’s dissertation on aerosol science and calls himself a “citizen scientist,” has been covering masks on his YouTube channel since August.
Collins turned his bathroom into a makeshift lab using an aerosol generator to pump out small particles of salt and water. A condensate particle counter counts how many particles are in the air and how many are in the mask that Collins is currently testing. He compares the number of particles inside the mask with the number outside it, which helps him determine its effectiveness.
His best efforts, he found after his research, are protective masks like KF94s, KN95s or N95s.
“The N95s are obviously the best because it seals the face, but the downside is that it is secured with a headband that can ruin your scalp.” In his research, he has found that KF94 masks range from 90 to 99% protection, while KN95 masks also work well, but they have greater variation in quality.
He advises against buying masks on eBay or Amazon because there are bootleg versions floating around.
“The marketplace is still a problem. Scammers still have a huge amount of stock out there. ”
Instead, he proposes to buy from two companies: New Jersey-based importer, Be Healthy USA and Bona Fide Masks.
Ever since November, when New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick wore two masks after his quarterback, Cam Newton, tested positive for COVID-19, questions have been swirling about whether doubling is the best approach.
“If your first line of protection is not significant, like a scarf, you can put on another layer,” Mohan said. Other researchers mention that the mood says that a dress mask and surgical mask provide an effective pairing.
“It is clear that the more layers of fiber you have between one person’s mouth and the other, there is less risk of spreading infection. But it can diminish the benefit as far as the ability to breathe, ”Mohan said. “The idea is that it should be snug fit without making you uncomfortable.”