What kind of masks are available and who should wear them?
There are two main types of medical masks:
Surgical masks, also called face masks, are usually made of pleated paper or other non-woven material. They’re worn by surgeons to prevent their fluids, such as coughs or sneezes, from contaminating the operating area. They fit loosely and are not designed to filter out the smallest airborne particles.
N95 respirators, another type of mask, must be sized to the wearer so they fit snugly around the mouth and nose. The 95 in the name refers to the fact that they filter out 95% of airborne particles. These masks must meet specifications established by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.
N95 respirators are specifically designed for healthcare workers who are in close proximity to infected people. These masks are used to protect workers from exposure to diseases like tuberculosis and measles because they filter out tiny particles that can travel through the air.
Healthcare workers wear these kind of masks, or respirators, before treating coronavirus positive patients. Medical professionals are trained in the proper use, removal, cleaning and disposal of these masks. When fitted properly, the N95s fit so snugly, they can’t be used by men with beards.