Masks, also known as respirators, prevent your respiratory droplets and particles from exposing others. The two most common types of masks are Internationally Approved Respirators and NIOSH-Approved Respirators. Many masks look similar, but there are significant differences.
Most Internationally Approved masks are KN95 masks. Using an international mask that has not been registered with the FDA may not provide the level of protection indicated, so make sure to look for certified KN95 masks that are FDA approved.
Most NIOSH-Approved masks are N95 masks. NIOSH-approved masks provide the highest level of protection from particles, including the virus that causes COVID-19. It’s important to wear masks that have the following qualities:
- A proper fit over your nose, mouth, and chin to prevent leaks
- Multiple layers of woven or non-woven material
- A nose wire
- Fabric that blocks light when held up to a bright light source (Cloth Masks)
Do NOT wear masks with:
- Gaps around the sides of the face or nose
- Exhalation valves, vents, or openings
- Wet, dirty, or damaged material
- Single-layer fabric or those made of thin fabric that doesn’t block light (Cloth Masks)
Handwashing and practicing hand hygiene is a simple yet effective way to prevent getting sick. Cleaning your hands by washing them with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer is one of the best ways to avoid sickness and prevent spreading germs to others.
COVID-19 spreads through coughing, sneezing, and close contact with others, so social distancing and maintaining proper space of at least 6 feet between others when gathering can help reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 and other illnesses. The practice of social distancing means staying home and away from others as much as possible if you are sick to prevent others from getting infected.