History of the Covid-19 Mask

Celeste Arbelaeaz, Broadcast Journalism

Remember when we didn’t have to wear masks? Well, we’ll get a taste of that again as the New Jersey Mask Mandate lifts on March 7, 2022. Schools will now have the choice of whether they would like their students to wear masks. Because of this announcement, let’s take a trip back to where it all began. 

The world was in shock when the Covid-19 virus first appeared. No one knew what to do or how to deal with the situation. But as time went on, there were regulations put in place  that ordered people to wear masks. Wearing masks became the new norm, and throughout the pandemic experts have advised the general public what kind of masks to wear. However, as COVID evolved, protocols changed as new findings about the virus were uncovered. 

Many people wore cloth masks at  the beginning of the pandemic, but recently experts began to advise against wearing them in favor of  wearing the N95 mask, which provides more protection from the virus.  However, when the pandemic began, and N95 masks were in short supply, the public was asked not to wear them, so there would be an ample supply for health care workers. 

At  the start of the pandemic, the CDC guidelines stated that the cloth masks could offer a decent level of protection. Now  in 2022, the guidelines have shifted to wearing less cloth masks due to the low level of protection they are claimed to provide. 

The N95 and KN95 masks are considered the best option for anyone looking to stay safe and away from the virus. These masks are made to be effective at blocking stray particles in the air. The fibers in these masks are made to create a large amount of surface area inside the mask for both filtering and collecting air particles.

In comparison, cloth masks are made of polyester or cotton which are common woven materials. The fibers in cloth masks are bigger and less densely packed, which means that more particles can pass through the material compared to the N95 and KN95 masks.

As of February 2022, the public is still being advised to wear N95 and KN95 masks instead of cloth masks, because they offer the most protection, but come March 7, in New Jersey, no masks, and zero protection, will be the new recommendation. 

 

Lee Borcherding