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5 Things To Keep In Mind When Choosing A Mask

a filter pocket on a mask
NPR

When shopping for a face mask for yourself or your kids, keep in mind that not all masks are created equal.

That’s especially important as transmission levels are very high in the Jacksonville area and kids are returning to school. Duval public school students are testing positive for COVID more than they were at the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year — 35 coronavirus cases so far in the first three days of school versus 27 in the first two weeks last year.

"A cloth mask might be 50% effective at blocking viruses and aerosols," Linsey Marr, a researcher at Virginia Tech who studies airborne virus transmission, told NPR. "We're at the point now ... that we need better than 50%.”

"I am now wearing my best mask to the grocery store. I wasn't before," Marr said.

Here are five tips from NPR on boosting the protection your face mask offers:

  1. Wear two masks
  2. Add a filter
  3. Choose a better cloth mask
  4. Make your mask fit tighter
  5. Consider KN95s and KF94s

Read more from NPR on each of these options.

And, of course, masks only work if they are comfortable enough to be worn all day. You can reduce ear strain by choosing an over-the-head option with a filter pocket, like these for grown-ups and these ones for kids.

Jessica Palombo supervises local news gathering and production, podcasts and web editorial content for WJCT News, ADAPT and Jacksonville Today. She is an award-winning writer and journalist with bylines including NPR, Experience Magazine, and The Gainesville Sun. She has a master’s degree in broadcast and digital journalism from Syracuse University and is an alumna of the University of Florida. A nearly lifelong resident of Jacksonville, she considers herself lucky to be raising her own children in her hometown. Follow Jessica Palombo on Twitter: @JaxJessicaP
Maria Godoy is a senior science and health editor and correspondent with NPR News. Her reporting can be heard across NPR's news shows and podcasts. She is also one of the hosts of NPR's Life Kit.