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Comparison of virus-protecting masks

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we have all gotten used to many aspects of our “new normal,” including face masks.

The CDC states that wearing masks, if you are not fully vaccinated, will help slow the spread of the virus, but many people are questioning if all masks are equally as effective in protecting users from the virus.

According to John Hopkins University, there are many important aspects to look for when choosing a face mask.

For instance, there needs to be at least two layers of fabric, it needs to cover your mouth and nose without large gaps, and there should be ear loops or ties so you can adjust it. Following these general guidelines will help you choose a mask, but the comparison of face masks still stands. What are the different types of masks and what are the differences between them?

1. Cloth or paper masks

According to an article published by John Hopkins University, these masks help slow the spread of COVID-19 and help keep people who unknowingly have the virus from transmitting it to others. Densely woven cottons are a good material for cloth masks because they are washable yet thick.

Click here to read our blog post if you’re unsure if you have COVID-19 or if you should get tested.

2. Procedural and surgical masks

These are loose-fitting masks designed to cover the mouth and nose. Although surgical masks are not close fitting, they are fluid resistant and provide some protection from the larger droplets of coughs and sneezes. According to Lisa Lockerd Maragakis, Senior Director of Infection Prevention at John Hopkins, surgical masks help prevent the wearer from spreading infectious droplets to others. Like N95 respirators, these masks are used by healthcare workers whose safety depends on a sufficient supply. They aren’t reusable or washable.

Concerned that your coughing and sneezing are symptoms of COVID-19? Click here to check if your allergies are acting up or if you should get tested for COVID-19.

3. Professional respirators

Often called N95 respirators or masks, these medical devices help prevent exposure to tiny droplets that can be suspended in the air. The John Hopkins article states that healthcare workers who wear them undergo a fit-test to find the right make, model, and size to ensure a tight seal. N95 respirators should be reserved for healthcare professionals and first responders.


How effective are neck gaiters, bandanas, or masks with valves in stopping the spread of the coronavirus?


neck gaiters + bandanas

Neck gaiters are too thin, bandanas are open at the bottom, and valves can allow droplets to escape. Therefore, none of these face coverings work as a proper face mask according to John Hopkins University.

worn mask testing

Comparing types of face masks is never something we thought we would have to do, but that’s where this year has taken us! No matter where you’re wearing your masks, our worn mask testing kit can be a great way to monitor your environment for the presence of COVID-19.

Click here to read more about how Worn Mask Testing works.

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