MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Across Minnesota, the COVID-19 test positivity rate jumped above 13% on Wednesday – the worst in more than a year. And The New York Times says the state has seen a 70% increase in the number of cases in the past two weeks.
That’s why the mayors of Minneapolis and St. Paul have reinstated indoor mask warrants starting at 5 p.m. Thursday. The rule applies to businesses like stores and restaurants. Fans attending this weekend’s Wild and Vikings matches will also need to wear masks.
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By now you’ve probably tried a handful of different masks, but it might be time to shop around. Experts say the reason cloth masks no longer cut it is because the Omicron variant is so contagious.
Dr. Lisa Brosseau has actually researched how our masks protect us.
“There are a lot of things that matter,” said Brosseau.
First of all, the hardware. Cloth masks offer the least protection and surgical masks are slightly better. Dr Brosseau says both are good for runs that take a few minutes, and that’s about it.
“Put it on, go to a store and don’t stay there for very long,” she said. “Once you walk into a store and know you’ll be there for more than a few minutes, you need to wear a respirator. “
Dr Brosseau said that a KN95 mask will give you more protection than a surgical or cloth mask, but not as much as a respirator like an N95. Legitimate respirators will have things like the manufacturer’s name, model number, a TC number, and the acronym NIOSH, for National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.
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“He should have two straps, not earrings. If he has earrings, it’s not a respirator, ”said Brosseau.
So how much better are respirators?
“You get minutes with a cloth mask or a surgical mask, and you get hours with the respirator,” Brosseau said.
Dr. Brosseau’s research showed protection for more than an hour if wearing a respirator. If everyone around you is wearing them as well, that drops to over six hours.
“You don’t have to go in an N99 or an N100 if you can get an N95,” she said.
And make sure they fit well. It’s an investment that gives you protection in return.
The CDC says about 60% of KN95 respirators in the United States are counterfeit. Dr Brosseau says that a genuine respirator should have the following:
* Straps to wear around your head, not your ears
* Manufacturer’s name and model type (like 3M and N95)
* It will also say NIOSH (spelled correctly)
* It will have a TC number
* You can search the information of your masks on the NIOSH website to verify
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Click here for more information on CDC masks, including tips for identifying a counterfeit respirator.