How to get a free N95 mask, and how long you can wear them before disposal

(Photo: CDC / Debora Cartagena)

Today, White House officials announced a new program aiming to control the spread of the global pandemic. Through this new program, those who need high quality N95 face masks can get them- for free- in the coming weeks.

In a majority of the United States, the omicron variant may have reached what health officials are calling its “peak”.

Hospitalizations are holding steady, however, and White House officials are taking the step to make 400 million N95 masks available to the public.

Some health experts suggest that the N95 masks provide better protection than cloth or the non-medical disposable masks. Also, the N95 masks are said to provide protection for a longer amount of time.

Linsey Marr, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Virginia Tech said, “the most important thing to do is make sure it seals well around your face…bending the nose bridge to fit your nose.”

She continues to suggest that in order to use these masks as safely as possible, it is best to avoid touching the front outer part of the mask when putting on, taking off or adjusting it.

The safest way to handle the N95 masks are by their edges and straps to avoid contamination. If the mask becomes damp, visibly dirty, creased, damaged or bent, it is recommended that it be replaced.

The masks should never be washed, as water makes them less effective. An alternative solution is to set the mask in sunlight for several hours- this can help particles die off. It is advised to never place the masks in a microwave for any reason.

N95 masks are designed for adult faces, however, older children may benefit from wearing a smaller size N95 mask if it fits properly.

The 400 million free masks will become available late next week at a network of local pharmacies and community health centers. They are the same locations that have been used to administer vaccines to the public.

Officials are saying that this new program will roll out fairly quickly, and should be fully up and running by early February.

Remember: you can get up to 4 free at-home COVID-19 tests online here.

Categories: Local, NC, NC-Carolinas, News, Top Stories, US

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