It's been nearly two years since the first mask mandates were put in place in parts of the United States.  Yet, after two years, and a significant increase in COVID-19 cases of late, Erie County decided that it was time for a refresher course in Masks-101.

Making sure that its residents execute proper, consistent mask use is even more important in our area now as COVID levels continue to rise, regardless of vaccination status.

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A few things to keep in mind when choosing your masks:

1. A high-quality, well-fitting mask that seals to the sides of your face, over your nose, and under your chin can help to prevent viral particles from escaping.  This benefit will help to reduce the risk of exposure to or transmission of COVID-19.

2. The best mask is the one you wear consistently and properly.

3.  When deciding on which mask to use, the county notes that N95, KF94, and KN95 masks are all designed to fit snugly around a person’s face, and have typically been used in medical and other high-risk settings. These masks are reusable, per manufacturer’s instructions, until they become damaged or wet making them an ideal choice.

4. If you don't go with the above-mentioned masks, the county recommends layering a two-layer or three-layer cloth mask over a disposable paper or medical mask, and can provide "Just as good" of protection as the ones above.   “Double masking” increases the mask’s filtration capability and helps to improve the seal on the face, which is key.

5. DO NOT choose masks that have exhalation valves or vents that allow virus particles to escape.

The Erie County Department of health is currently providing KN95 masks to municipal emergency managers and community organizations. Be on the lookout later this week as the County will be announcing distribution points for KN95 masks for the general public, as well as COVID-19 at-home tests this week.

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