Masks protect yourself and those around you from getting sick by acting as a barrier against respiratory droplets. The virus is spread through respiratory droplets when people cough, sneeze, tak, shout, or sing. As of January 2022, the CDC recommends N95 masks as the best protection against Covid-19. Below are descriptions of the three types of masks that can be worn as protection.
Also called medical masks or surgical masks, these are intended for single-use and protect the wearer from contact with droplets and sprays that may contain germs. The mask must fit properly over your nose and mouth to offer full protection. Masks that have a nose wire and multiple layers of non-woven material ensure this protection. Rubber bands loop behind the ears to help keep the mask in place.
Cloth masks protect by trapping droplets from the nose and mouth when the wearer talks, coughs, or sneezes. The most effective cloth masks are made with multiple layers of fabric such as cotton. Cloth masks are reusable and can be washed for another wear using a washing machine or by hand with soap and water.
The N95 mask is a type of respirator and should therefore be reserved for health care providers. There are non-surgical N95s that can be used by the general public when supplies are available.
Do I still need to wear a mask if I’m vaccinated?
The CDC recommends continuing to wear a mask indoors in public even if you are vaccinated; especially in areas with a high transmission rate such as Los Angeles. Wearing a mask is required on public forms of transportation in the US.
Below are two infographics from the CDC website showing how to choose a mask and the proper way to take off your mask.