It’s been over a year since the CDC formally recommended that Americans wear cloth face coverings in all public settings, including grocery stores, pharmacies, and other high-traffic spaces. Crucially, at the time, the CDC recommended cloth face coverings instead of surgical masks or N95 respirators—the agency had made it clear that those supplies should be reserved for healthcare professionals and first responders, those on the front lines of combatting the spread of the virus day in and day out.
Now, things have shifted considerably. The uptick in production of surgical masks means they’re no longer in such short supply. And over the last few months, there seemed to be an end in sight. Vaccines arrived from Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, and Moderna. Folks were lining up at pharmacies and vaccination centers to get those vaccines. There’s still work to be done on that front—whole pockets of the country still have distressingly low vaccination rates—but it felt like a light had appeared at the end of a long, dark tunnel. A sense of calm emerged, the world began to open up again, and the strict rules about wearing masks began to subside.
Then, things took a turn. A new strain of COVID-19, called the Delta variant, is starting to concern officials. The CDC has reinstated the guidelines on wearing masks in all public settings, regardless of vaccination status. Not only that, but the health agency is recommending that surgical masks be used. This is because people with the Delta variant, according to recent data, can carry 1,000 times more viral airborne particles. It is more contagious. Even if you have the prescribed dose(s) of the vaccine, current research suggests you can still spread the disease.
(Here it’s especially important to note that an overwhelming amount of recent research indicates wearing a face mask is highly effective in reducing the spread of respiratory droplets linked to the transmission of the virus, particularly when maintaining proper distancing measures is otherwise difficult. We know this. You know this. The science bears it out. Please don’t listen to YouTube charlatans telling you otherwise.)
So, to really protect you and your loved ones, we’re back to masking. Like I mentioned above, surgical masks are the best option. Cloth masks are better than none at all, without a doubt, but they aren’t medical grade. Surgical masks, however, are tested by the ASTM International, an industry group that establishes safety standards. They are built to effectively prevent large particles from entering your respiratory system. Even then, they’re not made to block tiny aerosols from infiltrating your airways. For this, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends N95 or KN95 masks, which can be sourced from Chinese manufacturers. Thankfully, they are much more readily available than they were during the height of the pandemic.
So with that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of all the places you can buy a face mask right now to help you and your loved ones track down options you’ll be comfortable wearing for the foreseeable future. This is our reality now, and it’s more important than ever to remain vigilant and keep those masks on as we all do our part to weather the storm. Stay safe out there, folks. There is light at the end of this tunnel.
To have a better understanding of the right type of face mask to combat the Delta variant, consult the story from our friends at Good Housekeeping.
3-Ply Disposable Face Masks
3-Layer Disposable Face Masks (50-Pack)
4-Layer Face Masks (50-Pack)
4-Ply Disposable Medical Face Masks (50-Pack)
KN95 Face Mask (30-Pack)
N95 Mask (10-Pack)
KN95 Face Mask (50-Pack)
M2 All-Day Anti-Microbial Face Mask 5 Pack
AIRism Face Mask (3 Pack)
Regular Zenbu Organic Cotton Face Mask – Ear Band
5 Pack Cotton Navy Masks
The Wake Up & Fight Mask 3 Pack
Recycled Cotton Mask 3-Pack
The 100% Human Face Mask 5-Pack
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