Get the most from your mask

The mask order is no longer in effect in Salt Lake County. But that doesn’t mean you should toss  yours away. A good mask is an important thing to have when trying to steer clear of COVID-19—especially the omicron variant. But what is a good mask? Right now, N95, KN95 and KF94 masks offer the best protection according to health experts. These masks fit snugly on the face and the fibers in the material are closer together than in other masks. The fit and the fiber makeup work together to keep out a large percentage of harmful particles.

Of course, a mask is only good as long as it’s in good working condition. Current guidance is that an N95, KN95 or KF94 can be worn for roughly 40 hours before it should be replaced. However, that estimate comes with some caveats. You should immediately replace your mask if:

  • It no longer fits snugly on your face – covering both your nose and mouth.
  • It is damaged.
  • It has gotten wet, such as from coughing and sneezing or other liquids.
  • You have been wearing it in a high-exposure environment for an extended period.
  • You were wearing while closely interacting with a person known to have COVID-19.

If you cannot find one of the recommended masks, or you run out of them because they are no longer wearable, there are other options to keep you safe. A surgical mask paired with a cloth mask over the top is a good alternative. However, a single surgical mask or cloth mask will not offer you the protection you need.

Mask wearing is one way to protect yourself against COVID-19. In addition, you should make sure your vaccination is current and get a booster when needed. If you are experiencing symptoms or have been exposed to the virus please get tested. Those who do contract the virus need to stay home to stop the spread of COVID-19 in our community.

Please note that if you are required to wear an N95 mask for your job duties (to protect you from a workplace hazard) you must enroll in the University Respiratory Protection program, requiring medical clearance and fit testing.

Stay smart and stay safe.