Omicron Update: What face mask is best for you? Medical experts weigh in

ByEyewitness News via WABC logo
Thursday, January 13, 2022
EMBED <>More Videos

Submit questions your COVID questions for medical experts and we will get them answered on Eyewitness News.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- With soaring COVID cases is renewing the debate over face masks, medical experts joined Eyewitness News to weigh in with their masking recommendations.

Dr. Bruce Farber, Chief Public Health and Epidemiology Officer at Northwell Health, and Dr. Jay Varma, Director of Weill Cornell Medicine's Center for Pandemic Prevention and Response, joined Eyewitness News Wednesday with some important recommendations regarding the use of face masks.

What's considered a high-quality mask?

Dr. Farber says the highest-quality masks are the N95 masks that are worn by health care workers when they're taking care of COVID patients.

He says they're tight-fitting and fit-tested, but are quite uncomfortable.

RELATED | COVID hospitalizations skyrocket in kids too young for vaccines

"I've worn them for many years, you have a hard time wearing them all day -- they're difficult because they're so tight-fitted," he said.

Is that what people should be wearing?

Dr. Farber says for people who are actively around COVID patients, they should wear an N95. However, because of their expense, their availability and difficulty in wearing them for long periods of time, he's not sure they're practical for the general public.

"I think the KN95 is the next best compromise, which is a tight-fitting, but somewhat looser mask," Farber said.

After the KN95, he says the surgical mask is less effective but is much more comfortable.

Masks to avoid?

Farber says the masks you need to avoid are the loose-fitting cloth masks, which hold little to no value. However, he says any mask is better than no mask, especially indoors.

RELATED | CDC says it will update mask 'information' amid COVID surge

Dr. Jay Varma had a similar recommendation, saying "the best mask is the one that you wear."

Varma also strongly urged New Yorkers to wear N95 or KN95 masks if they're available.

How about double masking?

Varma even went a step further on guidance over double masking.

"If they're gonna double mask, use the medical mask on the bottom and use a well-fitting cloth mask over it," he said.

national geographic covid newsletter sign up

national geographic covid newsletter sign up

MORE CORONAVIRUS COVID-19 COVERAGE

Omicron variant symptoms: what to know even if you are vaccinated

New York City COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker

New Jersey COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on coronavirus

Submit a News Tip or Question