Resources and Suggested Best Practices for Mask Wearing for the TRS ECC Community and Congregation
In keeping with the CDC’s call to members of the public to “Improve the Fit and Filtration of Your Mask to Reduce the Spread of COVID-19,” the TRS COVID Advisory Group (CAG) put together a supplemental resource document to provide the TRS ECC Community and Congregation with a consolidated list of some options and best practices for mask wearing. Especially as we return to TRS for community and worship activities, ensuring that each person is wearing the best mask for their protection and others will be crucial.
If you are currently using a cloth mask and would like to know more about how to upgrade, three helpful characteristics to consider are the 3 F’s: Filter, Fit, and Function. Upgraded masks are better able to filter small particles that carry viruses because they are made of special materials like multiple layers of nonwoven/electrostatic fibers or nanofibers. One measure scientists use for this is % VFE (Viral Filtration Efficiency). Cloth masks can vary widely between 20-70% VFE while N95s use materials with 99% VFE. But to be more protective, a mask needs to fit the face tightly, covering the nose and mouth, and creating as best a seal to the face as possible without gaps. (For example, while N95s use 99% VFE material, they must fit the face closely to provide a certified 95% VFE level of total protection.) Finally, a mask needs to function, it needs to be comfortable and breathable so you can actually wear it for longer periods of time. The following infographic illustrates the 3Fs and where different upgraded masks fall on a spectrum of effectiveness:
There are a lot of counterfeit masks circulating. Please be cautious if purchasing masks from Amazon, e-bay, or other e-commerce sites because these sites do not effectively screen out counterfeit products. Also, please avoid KN95 masks that are not FDA EUA approved (you can check the list here: https://www.fda.gov/medical-devices/coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19-emergency-use-authorizations-medical-devices/personal-protective-equipment-euas).
The links below contain suggestions of particular products and brands that have worked well for members of the TRS community, and that are reputable brands. TRS does not endorse or promote buying any one particular brand or company over another, but has pulled together these suggested links in case they are of interest for the community. These resource links are for masks that can promote effective filtering, fit, and function, but there are also many other types and brands of masks available as well.
Upgraded masks can be more expensive. What can help with per-use cost is reuse. While most of these masks were originally designed for single use, preliminary research indicates it is possible to reuse them on a limited basis without major degradation of VFE. For nonwoven/electrostatic filters, a maximum of 40 hours of total use is recommended. If wet or soiled the mask should be discarded. Keep masks in a clean, breathable container, like a paper bag, between uses. Rotate between 3-4 masks to allow 3-4 days between reuse, ensuring virus die-off.
Nanofilters vary but in general are reusable for a longer period of time. For example, the SoomLab HPB mask has no hour limit but can be reused up to 10x (with an ethanol or isopropyl alcohol spray cleaning step, do NOT use soap), and the Happy Mask has a 250 hour limit and a 50x wash limit (hand wash, soap and water). For these two masks, follow manufacturer instructions.
If you have any questions about resources and best practices for mask wearing for the TRS ECC Community, please contact Parents Committee Member Angie Boyce (email@example.com, 650.793.5499)
If you have any questions about resources and best practices for mask wearing for the TRS Congregation, please contact TRS Executive Director Jessica Ingram (firstname.lastname@example.org, 703.676.3871)