Procedure & Isolation 3 ply Mask (50 per box) with Ear Loop:
Procedure Masks offer a flexible nose piece that helps form a closure for better protection against exposure
Pleated ear loop procedure masks with glass-free filter
Frequently Asked Questions
When Should You Wear a 3 Ply Mask?
The CDC recommends that everyone — sick or healthy — wear a cloth or 3 ply mask in places where it can be hard to stay 6 feet away from others, like grocery stores. That’s because studies show that people can spread coronavirus even if they don’t have symptoms (called asymptomatic) or before they have symptoms (called presymptomatic). In fact, you might be the most contagious just before symptoms begin.
When is it important to wear a mask?
The CDC recommends wearing cloth or a 3 ply face mask in public settings where compliance with physical distancing measures may be difficult to achieve and maintain. This is key in areas where community-based transmission is high.
This includes, but is not limited to, settings such as:
- grocery stores
- hospitals and other healthcare settings
Why did the CDC change its guidance on wearing masks?
The original CDC guidance partly was based on what was thought to be low disease prevalence earlier in the pandemic, said Chin-Hong. “So, of course, you’re preaching that the juice isn’t really worth the squeeze to have the whole population wear masks in the beginning – but that was really a reflection of not having enough testing, anyway,” he said. “We were getting a false sense of security.” Rutherford was more blunt. The legitimate concern that the limited supply of surgical masks and N95 respirators should be saved for health care workers should not have prevented more nuanced messaging about the benefits of masking. “We should have told people to wear cloth masks right off the bat,” he said.
Another factor “is that culturally, the U.S. wasn’t really prepared to wear masks,” unlike some countries in Asia where the practice of wearing a 3 ply mask is more common, said Chin-Hong. Even now, some Americans are choosing to ignore CDC guidance and local mandates on masks, a hesitation that Chin-Hong says is “foolhardy.”
What may have finally convinced the CDC to change its guidance in favor of 3 ply masks and other masks were rising disease prevalence and a clearer understanding that both pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic transmission are possible – even common. Studies have found that viral load peaks in the days before symptoms begin and that speaking is enough to expel virus-carrying droplets.
“I think the biggest thing with COVID now that shapes all of this guidance on masks is that we can’t tell who’s infected,” said Chin-Hong. “You can’t look in a crowd and say, oh, that person should wear mask. There’s a lot of asymptomatic infection, so everybody has to wear a mask.”
If we’re practicing social distancing, do we still need to wear masks?
A mnemonic that Chin-Hong likes is the “Three W’s to ward off COVID-19:” wearing a 3 ply mask or other mask, washing your hands, and watching your distance.
“But of the three, the most important thing is wearing a mask,” he said. Compared to wearing a mask, cleaning your iPhone or wiping down your groceries are “just distractors.” There’s little evidence that fomites (contaminated surfaces) are a major source of transmission, whereas there is a lot of evidence of transmission through inhaled droplets, said Chin-Hong.
“You should always wear a 3 ply mask or other masks and socially distance,” said Rutherford. “I would be hesitant to try to parse it apart. But, yes, I think mask wearing is more important.”