On Friday, January 14, 2022 the CDC updated their mask guidance as it relates to COVID-19.

Overall, the CDC recommends wearing the most protective mask that you can, ensuring that the mask fits well, and finding one that can be worn consistently. A well-fitting mask should fit snugly against the sides of your face and not have gaps. The CDC also suggests having a mask with a nose wire to help you get a secure fit and prevent air from leaking out of the top of the mask.

The new guidelines suggest that loosely-woven cloth masks and layered finely woven masks are the least effective in light of the Omicron variant. If you choose to wear a cloth mask, ensure that it has a proper fit over your nose, mouth, and chin, has multiple layers with a tightly woven fabric, and a nose wire for a tighter fit, according to the CDC.

The guidelines also suggest that a well-fitting disposable surgical mask that fits well with no gaps offers good protection.

Also, wearing a disposable surgical mask under a well-constructed cloth mask will offer even greater protection.

Finally, masks that offer the highest level of protection, according to the CDC, include KN95 masks and well-fitting respirators that are approved by NIOSH, such as N95s. These masks and respirators can be more constrictive and harder to breath through for some individuals.  N95 respirator use typically requires a medical evaluation and fit test, but the Authority is waiving those requirements at this time since the use is fully voluntary and recommended as one option by the CDC.

The Authority will continue to supply employees with surgical masks and well-constructed multi-layer cloth masks on a regular basis.  For those employees who request an N95 respirator, please send an email to Kara.Stromberg@nfta.com specifying your name, work location, and employee number.

Summarizing – the best mask is one that fits well and will be worn consistently.