Health experts warn cloth masks are ineffective against COVID-19

Published: Jan. 7, 2022 at 6:22 PM CST
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BELTON, Texas (KWTX)-- Experts are warning that in the face of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 people should upgrade from their cloth face masks.

They say while the cloth masks were some of the only options at the beginning of the pandemic, they are only a little more than a fashion accessory now, offering little protection against COVID-19.

“The omicron variant as you know is at least three times more contagious than our previous variants including the Delta,” said Bell County Health Authority Dr. Janice Smith. “The cloth masks they don’t filter those COVID particles very well.”

Experts recommend that people opt for an N95 or KN95 mask as the most effective option. These masks have an appropriate amount of layers and a snug fit around the face that keeps droplets out. The second best option, they say, is the surgical masks that are most commonly seen. They have multiple layers but don’t fit as well as an N95, leaving gaps for particles to enter.

If someone must wear a cloth mask as a last resort, Dr. Smith recommends adding layers to it.

“If you use a cloth mask it has to have two layers of cloth. One layer is not enough and you need to make sure the mask is dense enough to where you don’t see light through it,” she advises.

New research from the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists shows it takes longer to transmit or contract COVID-19 when wearing an N95 mask than when wearing a cloth mask or no mask at all.

If two people interacting are both wearing an N95 mask, the research says it would take 25 hours for one to transmit the virus to the other.

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