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On Friday January 14, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated their guidance by specifically endorsing N95 respirators and similar models as the ‘highest protection available’ against the spread of covid-19. Many people are now unsure where to start since the update to CDC guidance has endorsedN95 and KN95 respirators.

We’ve assembled up-to-date information about the status of the omicron variant, how to ensure you’re purchasing the best possible quality N95s, and secure resources for high-quality PPE from trusted US supplier MediDent Supplies.

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What is the status of the omicron variant?

Since early December 2021, the omicron variant has been spreading rapidly across the United States. It became the dominant strain of covid-19 in the US on December 20, and is currently peaking in many states, overwhelming hospitals and other public institutions.

As of mid-January 2022, the US is counting approximately 1,800 covid-related deaths and 780,000 new cases per day, resulting in record-breaking levels of hospitalizations. The US currently has the world’s highest count of covid deaths with over 870,000 deaths to-date.

Fully vaccinated individuals still have a stronger level of protection from omicron, but those who are unvaccinated are at high risk. People who get booster shots will be the most protected, because boosters restimulate the immune system and increase antibodies. While vaccination is the best form of direct protection from the virus, it is also extremely important to take all preventative precautions available, including wearing properly-fitting PPE.

For more information about the omicron variant, see updates on the CDC’s Omicron Variant: What You Need to Know.

Update to CDC guidance endorses N95 respirators

When the CDC updated their official guidance last week, the agency emphasized that N95s and other high-filtration respirators offer the best protection against covid-19.

“When worn consistently and properly,” the agency stated, N95 respirators approved by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), “provide the highest level of protection from particles, including the virus that causes covid-19.”

The CDC has previously endorsed N95 respirators as the front line of protection from viruses, stating that N95 respirator masks provide the best protection because they “[…] reduce the wearer’s exposure to airborne particles, from small particle aerosols to large droplets. N95 respirators are tight-fitting respirators that filter out at least 95% of particles in the air, including large and small particles.” However, throughout 2020 and 2021, the CDC did not recommend that the general population wear N95 respirators due to concern over causing mask shortages for essential workers, especially in healthcare settings.

The new guidance also gave a brief ranking of other face coverings, with N95s approved by NIOSH and KN95s at the top and disposable surgical masks next on the list. For the use of surgical masks, the CDC’s new guidance recommends “double-masking,” i.e. wearing a second cloth mask over a surgical mask to hold the first in place. The CDC emphasized that people should “wear the most protective mask you can that fits well and that you will wear consistently.”

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Best masks to protect yourself from omicron

The update to CDC guidance endorsing N95 respirators may have you wondering which mask is best for you. Here’s a quick guide to help you make the best choice for you.

N95 vs. KN95

N95s and KN95s are both high-filtration respirators made with a fabric-like web of synthetic polymer fibers designed to ensnare virus particles. Their material has an electrostatic charge, which uses the power of static electricity to trap incoming particles.

When worn properly, both models are designed to filter out around 95% or more of airborne particulate matter. However, N95 respirators are slightly more protective against airborne viruses because they usually have a better face seal than a KN95. N95 respirators are not yet regulated for children, so there are no official N95s in children’s sizes. Therefore, parents and guardians must choose KN95s in child sizes for the best protection for kids. Older children and teens may be able to wear small or medium N95s.

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Ensuring high quality and proper fit

To choose an appropriate N95, you must ensure that you are using a NIOSH-approved filtering facepiece mask that is also FDA-authorized. You can search the NIOSH-approved equipment list to double check before purchasing here.

Respirators should cover your nose and mouth fully and should fit snugly. To ensure your respirator fits well, conduct a fit test. To learn more about proper N95 use, see How to Safely Use Your N95 Mask.

For more information on assessing masks, see the CDC’s guide to spotting fake N95s.

MediDent Supplies: Secure, domestic PPE supply

Finally, it’s essential to purchase from a trusted source. MediDent Supplies is a U.S.-based, trusted supplier of high grade medical and other PPE. Our team of experts has a wealth of experience providing wholesale products to a wide variety of workplaces.

We are shipping N95 masks next-day. Don’t get caught unprepared; put a case in your supply closet today to avoid scrambling when the unexpected happens.

Purchasing in bulk? Contact our experienced team for wholesale orders.