As health officials see a spike in the Omicron variant, health professionals are reminding the public to wear face masks properly, especially if they have access to the highly coveted N95 and KN95 face mask.
Yesterday, Governor Larry Hogan reaffirmed his commitment to making sure people have access to the masks.
“From day one of this crisis, we have taken unprecedented actions to bring our entire public health arsenal to bear against this virus,” the governor said. “This includes procuring and distributing hundreds of millions of gowns, masks and other [personal protective equipment].”
Beginning next week, the Department of Health will begin distributing 20 million N95 and KN95 masks across the state, Hogan said. He said the masks will be made available free of charge to local health departments and at all state-run testing and vaccination sites.
The governor said the Maryland National Guard will also distribute the masks to nursing homes statewide and to state agencies.
“It really comes down to what’s called the two F’s, fit and filtration,” said Dr. David Marcozzi, Chief Clinical Officer for the University of Maryland Medical Center. “You want to make sure the masks fit securely over your face and form a proper seal.”
WMAR-2 News asked Marcozzi, who is also the Senior COVID Medical Advisor for Governor Hogan how long N95 and KN95 masks can be work for.
“I’ve worn mine for up to a week,” said Dr. Marcozzi.
The doctor says longevity of a mask’s life has to do with three factors:
- maintaining a proper seal over the face
- keeping mask dry
- clear of dirt/soil free
“Until those areas compromise the mask you can continue to use them,” he said.