On Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued updated knowledge about masks in light of the more contagious Omicron variant.
Experts say any mask worn is better than none, but well-fitting N95 masks are now widely available and offer the highest level of protection, followed by well-fitting disposable surgical masks and KN95s.
Gaps, which can be common with surgical masks, let air with respiratory droplets leak in and out around the edges of the mask. Masks should fit snugly over the nose, mouth and chin without gaps along the side of the face or nose.
Gaps can be caused by choosing the wrong size or type of mask and when a mask is worn with facial hair.
To continue wearing just a surgical mask, CDC recommends knotting and tucking its ear loops where they join the edge of the mask to provide better protection. A video at https://youtu.be/GzTAZDsNBe0external icon shows how to quickly fold and tuck unneeded material.
Cloth masks provide the least protection, the CDC said, although they can be worn with a disposable mask underneath to provide better protection than one mask alone. The combination can help reduce gaps.
Or, a fitter or brace can help reduce gaps for a cloth or disposable mask alone.