Since the coronavirus pandemic began, Dr. Frank McGeorge has been keeping viewers up-to-date and informed on all fronts. He’s been answering your questions about the vaccine, the vaccination process and more.
Should we be concerned about the BA.2 variant?
It’s definitely worth keeping an eye out, particularly because we don’t know how well-protected people who have been infected with omicron BA.1 will be protected from BA.2. If there isn’t good cross-protection, then we could see an extension of the current omicron surge. Hopefully, that doesn’t turn out to be the case.
We wear our masks only when we go in the store to shop. We are not wearing it eight hours a day like those who work. How long will our N95 mask last for us?
N95 masks are intended to be disposable, but as we figured out early on in the pandemic when they were in short supply, their life can be extended. As long as you keep them clean and the straps continue to hold the mask firmly to your face, there is no reason it cannot continue to be used.
Now that I have an N95 mask, I’m not sure how much it can be worn. Is there a recommended number of times or hours the N95 mask can be worn and still provide protection?
The CDC recommends that N95 masks should not be reused more than five times. But I would think of that in terms of the number of days. In the hospital, it is not unusual for many of us to wear the same N95 for a full eight hours. That would count as one use. If you put it on and take it off multiple times a day, I consider that part of the same one day’s use.
I work at a preschool, which is now supplying us with KN95 masks. I can’t get the mask to stop leaking at the top when I breathe out. That can’t be safe. And apparently, I have a small face because it’s so long. Any thoughts?
To be certified for use in the hospital by healthcare workers, these high-filtration masks or respirators, need to be fit and tested to ensure a proper seal. Unfortunately, we can’t fit and test a mask for every American and we are relying on an average fit. If the mask is too big for your face, aside from looking for a smaller one, try knotting the straps so they pull more firmly.
Also try using a regular disposable under the respirator to fill in some gaps, like wearing an extra pair of socks if your shoes are too big. These aren’t perfect solutions, but generally, a reasonably fitting respirator will provide better protection than a regular mask alone.
How should you store an N95 or KN95 in order to be able to reuse it?
Ideally, you should let the mask dry out for a few days between long uses. It should be hung in an open area or stored in a paper bag to dry. Don’t store masks in a plastic bag, that will actually prevent them from drying out.
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