Why wear N95 masks right now? La Crosse health expert explains

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) – The Biden administration is set to distribute 400 million N95 masks to Americans for free.

Those masks will be available at local pharmacies and community health centers.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention originally recommended that people wear cloth masks to help protect against spreading the coronavirus. But that was almost two years ago, and now, those guidelines are changing.

The CDC is recommending that people wear the most protective and best-fitting masks they can find.

N95 masks provide the highest level of protection against COVID-19, according to the agency.

“I think they’re fine,” La Crosse resident Cary Gundlach said. “They’re a little bit tighter than a loose-fitting cloth mask.”

Gundlach said he would prefer to wear cloth masks in most situations.

“I think it’s just more comfortable,” he said.

But he would put on an N95 mask if he were in a hospital or in close contact with an infected person.

“When it comes to comfort, obviously no mask would be great,” Gundlach said. “But, that’s just not the situation we’re in.”

Throughout this pandemic, safety guidelines are constantly changing.

“Is it confusing for people? Yes,” said Paula Silha, public information officer for the La Crosse County Health Department.

272128730 5006208789426011 2907218815856960957 N

N95 masks are being recommended largely because of the omicron variant, Silha said.

More N95 masks are on the market than before, and data show N95’s provide better protection, she said.

“When we know more, we try to provide that information to the public so they can make better decisions on how to protect themselves,” Silha said.

There are some disadvantages with N95’s.

Traditionally, you can’t traditionally wash and dry them, they cost more and they’re not pleasant to wear, she said.

“I think they’d be terribly uncomfortable for a long amount of time,” Silha said.

But whatever mask it is, experts say wearing one is better than going mask-less.

And with hundreds of millions more N95’s becoming available, Gundlach says it can’t hurt.

“Every little bit will help,” Gundlach said.

The CDC also says N95 masks filter at least 95 percent of the particles in the air when they are worn properly.

The free N95 masks are expected to be available sometime next week.

Recent News Headlines from News 8 Now  
La Crosse police asking for help identifying robbery suspect
‘Ms. Stockholm’: Bald eagle hit by train survives 80-mile journey from Stockholm to La Crosse 
La Crosse health-care facilities partner with National Guard to help ease bed and staff shortages

Snowflake Ski Jump set to bring highflying action back to Vernon County