The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's current recommendation is that fully vaccinated Americans in parts of the country with "substantial or high transmission" of COVID-19 should wear face masks indoors. And right now, with the number of COVID cases hitting new record highs nationwide amid the Omicron variant, more than 99.5% of all U.S. counties fall into the red "high transmission" tier. (You can check the community transmission status of your own county at the CDC COVID Data Tracker website.)
In some places, such as New York and California, update on the omicron variant, that vaccination is the best step the public can take to protect against severe illness and slow the emergence of new variants. But, the agency notes, "masks offer protection against all variants.". The CDC says, in its most recent
Where can you get these important, protective face masks? The Biden administration recently announced it would makeavailable to the American public. There are some important catches to this deal, though: You'll need to pick the free masks up at your local pharmacy or community health center (availability starts ), and quantities will likely be limited per person. If you need a steady supply of masks, buying your own N95s online or in stores is still your best bet.
The CDC further recommends face masks that have multiple layers of material. For extra protection, a disposable mask underneath a cloth mask is recommended (double masking). Wash your cloth masks between uses, and be sure to only wear disposable masks once. The CDC recommends against single-layer masks, and masks that do not form a proper leak-free fit over your mouth and nose. For optimal protection, you'll want to look for an N95 mask, designed to filter at least 95% of all airborne particles. KN95 masks offer a similar level of protection, but be careful when buying -- the CDC warns that roughly 60% of KN95 masks being offered for sale are counterfeit.
You can check out ourfor more information on these masks, including where to purchase them. We also have , and information about how to .
There are plenty of face mask options available for purchase online for adults and children alike from Amazon, Nordstrom and more, including N95s. And many are available at big discounts. Here are some mask options you can shop right now.
Madewell assorted adjustable adult face masks (3 pack)
Pick up these face masks from Madewell, currently on deep discount at Nordstrom. These cotton masks feature three-layer construction with a filter and adjustable ear loops. They're also available in another color and print combination.
Caraa printed universal adult masks (4 pack)
Honeywell DC300 N95 particulate disposable respirators (20 pack)
This new Honeywell design is made to fit more face shapes and minimize pressure points. It comes in a pack of 20.
Kimberly-Clark professional N95 pouch respirator (50 pack)
If you're willing to purchase 50 masks, these N95s from Kimberly-Clark have a large breathing chamber for comfort and soft but strong headbands. After a short period of unavailability, these N95 masks are back in stock at Amazon for quick shipping, so grab them before they sell out (again).
Under Armour Sportsmask
The moldable, washable Under Armour Sportsmask (available in multiple sizes) offers breathing room between your mouth and the mask surface, so you're not constantly inhaling mask fabric while trying to exercise. Made with a three-layer construction.
Lululemon ear loop face mask (3 pack)
These sweat-wicking masks from Lululemon, available in nine colorways, are a comfortable-to-wear choice for working out. While this mask is designed for exercise, note that it is not a medical-grade mask and is not ideal for day-to-day use.
Nordstrom adult face masks (4 pack)
These washable, double-layer masks from Nordstrom, made out of jersey cotton, feature a tie dye print and a built-in cotton filter pocket. Adjustable ear loops with sliding straps help secure it in place on your face.
The four pack of masks is currently 76% off -- that's less than $1.50 per mask. For each package of masks purchased, Nordstrom will donate a mask to "help protect kids and families in our communities."
Herschel classic fitted face mask
These Herschel masks, available in eight colors and prints, currently have a buy one, get one free discount. They're made with three layers and have a sleeve that fits an air filter. They have an adjustable nose bridge and ear loops. They also come with a connection lock that you can wrap around your head and attach to both loops to ease the pressure of the loops on your ears.
Brookwood Medical kids disposable face masks (30 pack)
Choose from all sorts of kid-friendly prints in this disposable, four-layer face mask. The mask's design prevents gaping and it won't cling to their mouths. Recommended for kids ages 3 through 12.
Oakley MSK3 anti-fog face mask
If you struggle with your glasses or sunglasses fogging up when you wear a face mask, try this no-slip Oakley mask, which promises to solve this issue. It fits snugly on the face and has adjustable straps. It has an aluminum nose bridge that allows for easy adjustments around your glasses, and a semi-rigid mask body that promises to keep the mask slightly off your face for improved breathability. (Replacement filters are available for purchase.)
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