In order to help stop the spread of the coronavirus, the CDC recommends everyone wear a face mask in public. This is especially important in settings where social distancing can be difficult, like grocery stores, pharmacies, and subways and buses (which are still being used on a daily basis by essential workers). According to Dr. Sten Vermund, an infectious-disease epidemiologist and dean of the Yale School of Public Health who recently published a study on the subject, “many types of masks can essentially block droplet transmission. If you aerosolized the virus, it might seep through a lot of masks, but when most people cough, the aerosol released is a small volume and the droplet is a large volume. So if you block the droplets, you may substantially reduce exposure.”
Though nonmedical masks are most effective when worn by an infected person, studies out of China and South Korea show that somewhere between 25 to 50 percent of infectious people are either presymptomatic or asymptomatic. “So if we have widespread or near-universal mask use, then those people are limiting their spread to others,” Vermund says. He warns, however, that face masks are not a silver bullet and work only when combined with other public-health measures, including washing your hands, remaining at home as much as possible, and staying at least six feet away from others when you do have to go outside. BEST 3 PLY MASK HERE
But what kind of face mask does the best job? And if you’re looking to order some, where can you buy them right now? We asked Vermund and Dr. Scott Segal, chairman of anesthesiology at Wake Forest Baptist Health, for insight into those questions and a few others.
dust, for the rest of us. Segal recently conducted a study on the efficacy of different materials used for homemade masks, and he says you want one in thick, tightly woven cotton like the kinds used for quilting or batik. These are better at filtering small particles close to the size of a virus (0.3 to 0.5 microns). “Our general guidance is to do a quick light test,” Segal says. If you can see light passing through the material when you hold it up to a bright light or the sun, it’s less likely to be a good filter.
Segal and Vermund also note that your mask should be both comfortable and fit tightly to your face, but it obviously shouldn’t be so tight or so thick as to impede your breathing. To help find the right face mask for you, we tested 44 of them (so far) on the basis of fit, breathability, style, and whether they pass Segal’s light test. We will continue to update this article with information as new masks arrive and are wear-tested.
Whether you’re waiting in line at Trader Joe’s, walking your dog around the block, or heading to work, these are the masks worth wearing.
The best masks to buy online