A lot has changed since the COVID-19 pandemic emerged worldwide particularly on how health experts are encouraging the public to protect themselves. Last year, filtering respirators such as the N95 and KN95 varieties were in short supply prompting health authorities to reserve them for medical use only. However, health authorities are now recommending the wearing of N95 and KN95 respirators for the general public instead of opting for low-grade face masks this year.
With more contagious COVID-19 variants of concern (VOC) such as the B.1.1.7 strain increasing the number of individuals getting infected with COVID-19 all over the globe, Europe has issued mandates on the use of N95, KN95, FFP2, and FFP3 respirators which can filter aerosol particles between 94 to 99%. In Asia, the mass production of KN95 respirators to meet the demands for both medical and general use.
Here in the country, American-made KN95 respirators are what most health experts are recommending for the general public considering that a lot of counterfeit N95 respirators originating from China are prevalently being sold in the market.
With new variants such as the B.1.1.7 strain being 70% more transmissible than any other variant to date, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have reiterated how American-made KN95 respirators which have undergone rigorous testing for fit and efficiency, can provide the highest level of protection for both wearers and those who they come in close contact with. Standard face masks alone can still trap viruses from the air, penetrate the fabric, and reach your mouth or nose.
More local producers such as The USA Mask Company are currently seeking certification for its N95 respirators from the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and upgrade to the American gold standard, N95 respirators. Once certified, N95 respirators with appropriate American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) labels will not be as scarce for public use as it was last year and will give people ample protection from COVID-19 as more statewide economies prepare to open soon.