President Joe Biden is expected to announce information about his plan to send high-quality masks to Americans for free.
That expectation comes as the CDC updated its mask requirements, saying Americans should wear the most protective mask or respirator they can find. In some cases, finding a genuine respirator can feel like a gamble.
From the start of the COVID pandemic, counterfeit high-quality N95, KN95 and now even KF94 masks have been a problem. Officials do their best to stop them from coming in to the United States, but even some major hospital systems have been scammed.
Read: Government investigating massive counterfeit N95 mask scam
Tips to help you spot fake masks
Health officials are recommending that people start using N95 or KN95 masks instead of cloth masks. The growing demand is leading to online scammers targeting unsuspecting consumers by selling counterfeit high-quality masks.
- US-approved N95 masks should have a NIOSH approval label. That label confirms that it meets the requirements set by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. KN95 masks from China will not have a NIOSH label.
- Real respirators will not have any decorative fabric or ad-ons.
- If a N95 masks has ear loops instead of headbands that’s a red flag. Only KN95 and Korean-made KF94′s use ear loops.
- If the mask has no markings on it at all then it’s likely fake.
- Check for typos.
Read: Complete Michigan COVID coverage
“It’s an incredibly difficult market for consumers to navigate,” Project N95 Government Affairs Director Kelly Carothers said. “There are hundreds of millions of these masks on the market in America right now that have no oversight. It’s very dangerous.”
The US certifies N95, while China approves KN95 masks. The CDC has issued a warning, saying that about 60% of N95 or KN95 masks on the market are counterfeit.
“As a consumer, it’s impossible to tell by looking at a respirator whether it’s a performing respirator or not. They look identical,” Carothers said.
Click here to visit the CDC’s consumer mask website for more information.