CDC Says Cloth Masks are Ineffective

CDC Says Cloth Masks are Ineffective

By Juliana Lee , Senior Editor

At the beginning of the pandemic, it was a battle to find masks that were safe. Many took their safety into their own hands and instead used Darth Vader masks, cooking pot tops, or even a plastic bag.

However, as we enter our third year of the pandemic, masks have become more of an instinct and part of our daily routine now. Of course, there are the select anti-maskers or the states who have lifted their mask mandates such as New Jersey. Nonetheless, masks are needed to protect everyone regardless of what a person’s belief system is, but what types of masks are effective? Grandma’s homemade sewn mask that says “I Love Grandma”, a Gucci mask, or one from CVS?

With the new and raging Omicron variant, masks are necessary to protect the safety of others as the variant spreads very quickly and efficiently. CDC has recently put a new update on the type of masks and respirators and the level of protection they give:

“Masks and respirators (i.e., specialized filtering masks such as “N95s”) can provide different levels of protection depending on the type of mask and how they are used. Loosely woven cloth products provide the least protection, layered finely woven products offer more protection, well-fitting disposable surgical masks and KN95s offer even more protection, and well-fitting NIOSH-approved respirators (including N95s) offer the highest level of protection.”

Although colorful cloth masks may do more for your style, it may not offer the highest level of protection. Nonacceptable cloth masks are ones with single layers and vents or valves. However, the CDC says any cloth mask worn does give a level of protection as long as the mask is fitted properly, is not dirty, does not have any gaps around the sides of the faces, is made of “fabric that blocks light when held up to bright light source”, and has multiple cloth layers. To add more protection when wearing cloth masks, one can wear a disposable mask underneath a cloth mask.

Celine Kim, a senior at Hills, says that she usually wears N-95 masks: “I also read from the CDC that N-95 masks give a lot more protection because it blocks out 95% of particles in the air, but I know they aren’t the prettiest to look at. But I think if I were to choose my health over my style, I think I would choose my health. People need to get over the fact that masks not only protect you but others like your loved ones. The sooner everyone wears masks, the sooner we get to be done with this pandemic.”

To read more about masks and respirators, how to wear them, and other information about Covid-19, check out CDC’s website in the link below: