U.S. CDC urges Americans to wear ‘most protective mask you can’

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By David Shepardson and Lisa Baertlein

WASHINGTON, Jan 14 (Reuters) – The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Friday revised its guidance https:www.cdc.govcoronavirus2019-ncovprevent-getting-sicktypes-of-masks.html for Americans on wearing masks to protect against COVID-19, recommending donning “the most protective mask you can” while stopping short of advocating nationwide usage of N95 respirators.

The CDC, an agency critics have accused of offering shifting and confusing guidance amid the pandemic, clarified on its website “that people can choose respirators such as N95s and KN95s, including removing concerns related to supply shortages for N95s.”

Americans should “wear the most protective mask you can that fits well and that you will wear consistently,” the CDC added.

The United States leads the world in COVID-19 deaths – roughly 850,000 – even as it battles a surge of cases involving the fast-spreading Omicron coronavirus variant. Complicating matters is the refusal of some Americans to get vaccinated.

President Joe Biden said on Thursday that the federal government plans to make “high-quality masks” available to Americans for free. In another step, the White House on Friday said the government will begin shipping 500 million COVID-19 tests to Americans later this month without charge.

The CDC said it wants to encourage Americans to wear masks rather than push them to wear the highest-grade face protection, but also explicitly said that respirators provide the best level of protection. It said that “loosely woven cloth products provide the least protection.”

“Masking is a critical public health tool to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and it is important to remember that any mask is better than no mask,” the CDC added.

The CDC said the revised recommendations “reflect the science on masking, including what we have learned in the past two years,” since the start of the pandemic.

More Americans have been recently opting for higher-grade protection amid the surge in cases.

The United States is tallying about 1,800 COVID-19 deaths and 780,000 new infections daily – the most in the world – as well as record levels of hospitalized patients.

The Omicron-related surge appears to be slowing in areas that were hit first, including states in the Northeast and South, according to a Reuters analysis. In Western states, the number of new cases climbed 89percent in the past week compared with the previous week.

The CDC last May announced that fully vaccinated people could shed their face coverings, as COVID-19 cases were then on the decline. But in July, the CDC said fully vaccinated people should wear masks in indoor… Nokia News – Short Summary.

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