CDC to release mask efficacy standards

Not all masks are created equal — and The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health is expected to release standard product guidelines next month, The New York Times reported Dec.16. 

There's currently more than 100,000 varieties of face masks available, but no labels to indicate how effective they are. 

"It's so startling that we are here in this moment and we don't have that information," Fran Phillips, RN, Maryland's former deputy health secretary, told the Times. 

The institute, a branch of the CDC, is working with ASTM International, an industry standard setting organization, to establish minimum standard filter requirements along with labels to indicate which products meet the requirements. Part of developing the standards includes evaluating how well a face covering blocks out virus particles. 

Some experts blame the FDA for the abundance of poor quality masks, saying it should have issued guidance earlier. 

"The FDA could have released guidance that masks should be fitted, at least two layers of cloth, not made of stretch materials, etc.," said Diana Zuckerman, PhD, president of the National Center for Health Research. "Instead, there was a free-for-all." 

More articles on public health:
Number of COVID-19 hospitalizations, state by state: Dec. 17
21 states where COVID-19 is spreading fastest, slowest: Dec. 17
Georgia Santa tests positive for COVID-19, exposed dozens of children to virus


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