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Filtration Efficiency of Face Masks Used by the Public During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Educational Objective
To identify the key insights or developments described in this article
1 Credit CME

In November 2020, the US was averaging more than 1 million new coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases per week, an astounding number. To make progress against the pandemic, routine and universal use of face masks throughout society is essential.

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is “transmitted predominantly by respiratory droplets generated when people cough, sneeze, sing, talk, or breathe,” and masks “reduce the emission of virus-laden droplets” and “help reduce the inhalation of these droplets by the wearer.”1 In the face of severe shortages of medical-grade masks, public health officials have recommended that the general public wear consumer-grade face masks to protect themselves against COVID-19, such as “non-valved multi-layer cloth masks.”1 However, there has been considerable discussion and debate about the types of masks that would be best, especially because the shortage of medical grade masks is not as acute as it once was (N95 masks remain in much shorter supply).

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Article Information

Corresponding Author: Robert Steinbrook, MD, JAMA Internal Medicine, Editorial Office, University of California, San Francisco, 505 Parnassus Ave, Ste M1180, Box 0124, San Francisco, CA 94143-0124 (robertsteinbrook@gmail.com).

Published Online: December 10, 2020. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2020.8234

Correction: This article was corrected on January 25, 2021, to fix the spelling of the author’s surname.

Conflict of Interest Disclosures: None reported.

References
1.
US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Scientific brief; community use of cloth masks to control the spread of SARS-CoV-2. Accessed November 17, 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/more/masking-science-sars-cov2.html
2.
Clapp  PW , Sickbert-Bennett  EE , Samet  JM ,  et al; US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Epicenters Program.  Evaluation of cloth masks and modified procedure masks as personal protective equipment for the public during the COVID-19 pandemic.   JAMA Intern Med. Published online December 10, 2020. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2020.8168Google Scholar
3.
Sickbert-Bennett  EE , Samet  JM , Clapp  PW ,  et al.  Filtration efficiency of hospital face mask alternatives available for use during the COVID-19 pandemic.   JAMA Intern Med. 2020. Published online August 11, 2020. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2020.4221PubMedGoogle Scholar
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