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U.S. CDC urges Americans to wear ‘most protective mask you can’

U.S. CDC urges Americans to wear 'most protective mask you can'
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WASHINGTON, Jan. 14 (Reuters) – The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Friday revised its guidance for Americans on wearing masks to protect against COVID-19, recommending that they wear “you can do masks” while refraining from sticking to Advocating for the use of N95 respirators nationwide.

The CDC, an agency that critics have accused of providing shifting and confusing guidance amid the pandemic, explained on its website that “people can choose respirators like N95s and KN95s, including removing concerns about a shortage of supplies for N95s.”

And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention added that Americans should “wear as much protection as possible and that you will wear them frequently.”

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The United States leads the world in COVID-19 deaths – nearly 850,000 – even as it battles a wave of cases involving the rapidly spreading Omicron variant of the coronavirus. To complicate matters, some Americans refuse to vaccinate.

President Joe Biden said Thursday that the federal government plans to provide “high-quality masks” to Americans for free. In another step, the White House said Friday that the government will begin shipping 500 million COVID-19 tests to Americans later this month without fees.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said it wants to encourage Americans to wear masks rather than push them to wear the highest degree of face protection, but it has also said explicitly that respirators provide the best level of protection. “Loosely woven fabric products provide the least protection,” she said.

The CDC added: “Concealment is an important 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 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the revised recommendations “reflect the science related to concealment, including what we have learned in the past two years” since the start of the pandemic.

More Americans have recently opted for higher-quality protection amid an increase in cases.

People wait in line to be tested for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at Tower Theater in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, US, January 11, 2022. REUTERS/Nick Oxford

The United States is counting about 1,800 deaths from COVID-19 and 780,000 new infections daily – the largest number in the world – in addition to record levels of hospitalized patients.

The Omicron-related increase appears to be slowing in areas hit first, including states in the northeast and south, according to a Reuters analysis. In western states, the number of new cases rose 89% in the past week compared to the previous week.

The CDC announced last May that fully vaccinated people can throw off their face coverings, as cases of COVID-19 have been declining. But in July, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said fully vaccinated people should wear masks in indoor public spaces in areas where COVID-19 is spreading rapidly. The CDC said this week that 99.5% of US counties are currently covered by the mask recommendation.

Some N95 makers in the United States told Reuters they set record sales of N95 after Anthony Fauci, Biden’s chief medical advisor, recommended on CNN that Americans get a quality mask you can afford and that’s available to you.

Properly worn N95 masks filter out at least 95% of the particles in the air, preventing the passage of anything larger than 0.3 microns.

Los Angeles County, the nation’s most populous, will on Monday require some employers to provide “medical” masks — surgical masks, KF94, KN95s or N95s — to workers at risk of contracting COVID-19 infection on the job.

Masks are still polarized. Biden, a Democrat, urged people again this week to wear masks and noted that about a third of Americans reported not wearing masks at all. Many republican states do not have mask requirements. Some Democratic-governed states such as California have reimposed inner mask mandates.

Blair Childs, an executive at Premier Inc. (PINC.O), a group procurement company for hospitals, has expressed concern about legislation backed by U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders that would send everyone in the country a package of three N95 masks. Such proposals could “throw the healthcare supply chain into disarray,” Childs said.

Days after taking office in January 2020, Biden imposed mask requirements on planes, trains, public transportation, and at airports and other transportation hubs — measures his predecessor Donald Trump refused to take. Biden last month extended transportation mask requirements through March 18. The CDC said Friday that N95 masks may be considered for use in places such as transportation “when greater protection is needed or desired.”

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(David Shepherdson Report) in Washington. Additional reporting by Lisa Bertlin in Los Angeles. Editing by Will Dunham, David Gregorio and Matthew Lewis

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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