We’re all having to become experts on face masks during this coronavirus threat, and it’s now a law for New Yorkers to do so when in public places like stores and on mass transit until further notice. 

All the experts agree: some sort of face covering is better than none. But what are the options and which are more effective than others?

Bronx Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing is here to sort out the confusion over face masks.

N95

These masks should really just be reserved for medical personnel who are providing emergency care for the sick enough to have to be on a ventilator or in the ICU. This mask is the most effective, as it blocks 95 percent of small particles, which is why it should be reserved for those taking the most risk of exposure. It should be noted that if you’re wearing one of these masks and have facial hair, you will not get a proper fit.

Medical

These are standard masks that most healthcare workers are wearing. Again, these are prioritized for those in the medical field, so if you have a large supply, you may want to consider donating them. You can also choose to wear them out into the public, as they filter between 60 and 80 percent of particles. These should be disposed of after one use.

Homemade

Cotton fabric is a good material to use if you are making your own mask. They will not be as effective as a medical grade one, but as long as you’re maintaining some distance from people, these masks will help. Cotton is good because it’s thick enough to stop particles and you can breathe easily enough through it. 

Homemade With Filter

If you want to get more complex, you can sew in a pocket to your homemade mask to add an extra layer of protection. A piece of a coffee filter or even a paper towel are good extra barriers that remain breathable. 

To learn more about Bronx Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing and all of the services they offer, visit https://bronx-center.facilities.centershealthcare.org/