PHOENIX — The CDC is considering changing its mask recommendation to better protect ourselves against the omicron variant. Experts say the highly protective N95 or KN95 masks are the best options.
Right now, you can find both types of masks at hardware stores all across the Valley, but they are more expensive. Prices range from about $1 a mask to over $3 a mask.
N95 masks are designed to filter up to 95 percent of particles, according to the CDC, and are approved by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health or NIOSH. You want to make sure the packaging says "NIOSH-approved."
KN95s are supposed to meet a comparable Chinese standard.
"As the transmissibility and infectious of the virus continues to mutate with new variants, we need to have better quality masks in indoor public spaces. That's why we have to use these masks that have this nice seal and basically create the barrier that we need," said ABC15 Health Insider Dr. Shad Marvasti from the University of Arizona College of Medicine-Phoenix.
The CDC's current recommendation says masks should fit snugly, have two layers of breathable fabric and a wire bridge around the nose.
Dr. Marvasti said a new recommendation is overdue.
"This recommendation should've been made when delta variant came on the scene because of increased transmissibility and the known fact that COVID-19 is airborne," he said.
ABC15 called around and found masks were in stock at many Home Depots, Lowe's, and Ace Hardware stores in the Phoenix area.
For Home Depot, you can call a specific store, and using the automated phone system, you can request that they send you a list of all the N95 masks they have in stock at that location.
There are plenty of options on Amazon.
If you don't have access to N95 or KN95 masks, you can also double up by using a surgical mask under a cloth mask.