WASHINGTON — Question: 

Do certain masks work better than others in preventing the spread of COVID-19?


Yes. N95 Respirators are far more effective in stopping the spread of viruses than regular surgical masks. Health experts emphasized that these masks should be reserved for those who are showing symptoms, and those who are taking care of others. 


The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention

NIOSH Graphic from CDC

The World Health Organization

U.S. Surgeon General 


As the coronavirus continues to spread across the United States, there is a growing fear of people who want to be prepared. Many want to know whether they should purchase masks, and if so, what type is preferable. 

Health experts continue to emphasize that masks are not needed for healthy people. 

"If you are healthy," wrote the WHO on its website. "You only need to wear a mask if you are taking care of a person with the suspected 2019-nCoV infection." 

The WHO said that masks should be worn if a person starts showing symptoms like coughing, fever, or difficulty breathing. 

The Surgeon General took to Twitter to emphasize this point on Feb. 29. 

With more people expected to become sick, the Verify Team looked to the experts to find out which masks are preferable. The Centers For Disease Control broke down to main types of masks: Surgical masks and N95 Respirators. 

Surgical masks are loose-fitting and are tested by the Food and Drug Administration. These masks are fluid resistant and can protect someone from large droplets. 

However, they do not offer a reliable level of protection from inhaling "smaller airborne particles." They are "not considered respiratory protection." 

Meanwhile, N95 respirators are tight-fitting and are evaluated and tested by NIOSH, under strict requirements. These masks not only block large droplets but small particles as well. 

These N95 Respirators filter out at least 95 percent of airborne particles. 

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