Get the Most Out of Your Masks

The two most common types of respirators (also known as masks) are: Internationally Approved Respirators and NIOSH-Approved Respirators. Many masks look similar, but there are significant differences.

Most Internationally Approved masks are KN95 masks. Using an international mask that has not been registered with the FDA may not provide the level of protection indicated, so make sure to look for certified KN95 masks that are FDA approved.

Most NIOSH-Approved masks are N95 masks. NIOSH approved masks provide the highest level of protection from particles, including the virus that causes COVID-19. Additionally, they prevent your respiratory droplets and particles from exposing others.

How to properly choose and wear a mask:

  • Look for markings printed on the product to indicate it is authentic
  • Make sure it covers your nose and mouth and seals well
  • There should be no gaps around your nose or mouth

A NIOSH-Approved or international mask should NOT be worn if:

  • It has exhalation valves, vents, or other openings
  • It is hard to breathe when wearing it
  • It is wet, dirty, or damaged
  • Combined with other masks

Mask Duration Limits:
Both Internationally Approved and NIOSH-Approved masks have about 40 hours of use per mask before they are considered to be worn out, says Anne Miller, executive director at Project N95, a nonprofit that vets and sells high-performance masks. (source)

How to Choose Cloth & Disposable Masks

Cloth Masks can be made from a variety of fabrics and many types of cloth masks are available. Disposable masks, also known as surgical or medical masks are widely available.

It’s important to wear masks that have the following qualities:

  • A proper fit over your nose, mouth, and chin to prevent leaks
  • Multiple layers of woven or non-woven material
  • A nose wire
  • Fabric that blocks light when held up to bright light source (Cloth Masks)

Do NOT wear masks with:

  • Gaps around the sides of the face or nose
  • Exhalation valves, vents, or openings
  • Wet, dirty, or damaged material
  • Single-layer fabric or those made of thin fabric that doesn’t block light (Cloth Masks)
 
Mask Duration Limits
  • Cloth Masks – Reusable cloth masks should be washed as soon as they become dirty, or least once a day. If you use a disposable face mask, throw it away after wearing it once. Always wash your hands after handling or touching a used mask.
  • Disposable Masks – The CDC does not recommend the reuse of disposable masks that are intended to be used once. The FDA recognizes that there may be availability concerns with surgical masks during COVID-19 public health emergency, but there are strategies to conserve disposable masks.

What You Need to Know About COVID-19 Test Kits

COVID-19 testing is one of the many measures that protects you and others by reducing the chances of spreading COVID-19.

Two Types of Tests
There are two types of COVID-19 tests—tests that detect the virus, and tests that detect the antibodies your body makes after contracting COVID-19, or from being vaccinated.

COVID-19 Viral Tests tell you if you have an active infection at the time of the test. A viral test tells you if you are infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 by using samples that come from your nose or mouth. There are two types of viral tests: rapid (antigen) tests and laboratory (molecular) tests. 

  • Molecular tests performed or interpreted by someone other than the individual being tested, can be performed in minutes. These are the tests you would get at a doctor’s office, drive-through testing center, or pharmacy. 
  • Antigen tests can be self administered. They are taken at home or anywhere, are easy to use, and produce rapid results. These are the over-the-counter tests you can find in pharmacies or order online and have delivered to your home.

 

Tests for Antibodies are done with a blood sample and may tell you if you have had a past infection with the virus that causes COVID-19. Your body creates antibodies after getting infected with the COVID-19 virus, or after getting vaccinated against COVID-19.

Antibody tests should not be used to diagnose a current infection, but they may indicate if you’ve had a past infection. You may also test positive for antibodies if you’ve received the COVID-19 vaccine

*As with all tests – you should always discuss your tests results with your healthcare provider.

 

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