The White House said the government will start sending COVID-19 tests to Americans for free at the end of this month.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Friday revised its guidelines for Americans to wear masks to protect against COVID-19. The centers recommended wearing “the most effective protective masks possible,” without advocating the nationwide use of N95 respirators.
The CDC, a government agency that critics accuse of offering ever-changing and confusing recommendations in the face of a pandemic, explained on its website “that people can choose respirators such as N95 and KN95, including addressing concerns about a shortage of N95 supplies.”
Americans should “wear the most protective mask that suits them and that they can wear all the time,” the CDC added.
The United States leads the world in the number of deaths from COVID-19 – approximately 850 thousand – even though they are actively fighting the surge in diseases associated with the rapidly spreading new variant of the coronavirus. The situation is complicated by the refusal of some Americans from vaccination.
President Joe Biden said Thursday that the federal government plans to provide Americans with “high-quality masks” for free. In another step, the White House on Friday said the government would begin sending 500 million COVID-19 tests to Americans later this month for free.
The CDC said they would like to encourage Americans to wear masks rather than force them to wear top-class face protection, but also explicitly stated that respirators provide the best level of protection. At the same time, it is indicated that conventional fabric masks “provide the least protection.”
“Masks are an essential public health tool to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and it’s important to remember that any mask is better than no mask,” the CDC added.
Recently, more and more Americans are choosing better mask protection against the background of a sharp increase in the number of cases of diseases.
In the United States, about 1,800 deaths from COVID-19 and 780,000 new cases of infection are registered daily (this is the most in the world), as well as a record number of hospitalized patients.
According to a Reuters analysis, the surge associated with Omicron appears to be slowing in the regions that were hit first, including states in the Northeast and South. In the western states, the number of new cases has increased by 89% in the last seven days compared to the previous week.
In May last year, the CDC announced that fully vaccinated people may not wear masks, because at that time the number of COVID-19 cases was on the decline. But in July, the CDC said that fully vaccinated people should wear masks in enclosed public spaces in areas of the country where COVID-19 is spreading rapidly. This week, the CDC said that 99.5% of U.S. counties have a recommendation for wearing masks.
Some manufacturers of N95 respirators in the United States told Reuters that they had record sales of this product after Anthony Fauci, Biden’s chief medical adviser, recommended that Americans “get the highest quality mask that you can wear and that is available to you.”
Properly worn N95 masks filter out at least 95% of solid particles in the air, preventing particles larger than 0.3 microns from passing through them.
Los Angeles County, the most populous in the country, on Monday will require some employers to provide “medical-grade” masks – KF94, KN95 or N95 surgical masks – to workers at high risk of contracting COVID-19 infection at work.
President Joe Biden this week again urged people to wear masks and noted that about a third of Americans report not wearing masks at all. In many Republican states there are no requirements for wearing masks. Some Democrat-run states, such as California, have reintroduced requirements for wearing masks indoors.
Blair Childs, Executive Director of Premier Inc (PINC.O), a company engaged in wholesale purchases for hospitals, expressed concern about a bill supported by U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, according to which a package of three N95 masks will be sent to every person in the country. Childs said such proposals could lead to difficulties in “healthcare supply.”
A few days after taking office as president in January 2021, Joe Biden introduced requirements for wearing masks on planes, trains and public transport, as well as at airports and train stations. This action was previously refused to take by his predecessor in the presidency, Donald Trump.
Last month, Biden extended the requirement to wear masks on transport until March 18. This Friday, the CDC said that N95 masks may be considered for use on transport where “higher protection is required or desired.”