With the current 7-day average of COVID-19 patients hospitalized topping 17,000 (up 137% versus last month) and the Omicron variant accounting for 93-97% of all cases, the CDC updated its mask guidance on Friday, January 14th to recommend Americans ditch cloth face coverings and instead opt for N95 masks – the same masks worn by healthcare professionals. The CDC stated N95 masks provide the most protection against COVID-19 due to their filtering facepiece respirators that when properly fitted to the user filter 95 percent of particles from the air.
When the CDC first issued mask guidance back in 2020 at the beginning of the pandemic, N95 masks were not recommended for the general public or allocated for home care or post-acute care providers due to the fear of constraining supply for frontline healthcare workers in hospitals. The CDC removed this concern on Friday by clarifying that the only N95 masks that should be reserved for hospitals and health systems were those labeled as “surgical”. With the Omicron variant causing a surge in hospitalizations for COVID-19, now is the time to purchase N95 masks to protect yourself, your family, and your employees.
Due to collaborative efforts by HIDA, healthcare manufacturers, and medical supply distributors over the past 2 years to solidify the supply chain for personal protective products (PPE), N95 masks are now readily available through Supreme Medical for all markets – including home care and post-acute care providers seeking to protect their clinical staff and delivery technicians, employers focused on safeguarding their employees while ensuring business continuity, and consumers at-home that are just trying to keep their family safe.
N95 Masks, KN95 Masks, Surgical Masks, & 3-Ply Masks
The updated guidance from the CDC emphasized that the best mask is the one that is worn consistently. We offer several different disposable face mask options – ranging from general use 3-ply face masks (not for medical use), surgical masks (ASTM Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3), KN95 masks, all the way up to an N95 Particulate Respirator like a healthcare professional would wear at a hospital or nursing home.
What is the difference in a KN95 Mask vs an N95 Mask?
The easiest way to think about it is that N95 is the U.S. certification which is regulated by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and KN95 is the Chinese certification. Both are rated to filter out 95% of very small particles in the air. Prior to the pandemic, only N95 mask were approved for use in medical settings within the United States. Due to the shortage of PPE in 2020, the CDC authorized KN95 masks as a suitable alternative to N95 masks.
The main difference most people will notice in wearing a KN95 versus an N95 mask is how you put the mask on and the fit. N95 masks will always secure to the back of your head with elastic retention bands and require a fit test; whereas KN95 masks have earloops and do not require a fit test.
Recent studies have shown that a well-fit N95 was found to be 75x better at protecting you than a surgical mask. Folks wearing N95s were protected against COVID-19 for 2,500 hours if the infected person also wore a fitted N95, versus just 25 hours with non-fit tested N95s. With fit being so important, we’ve included a fit testing infographic below to help walk you through the process.
Why should you purchase N95 masks from a distributor?
At Supreme Medical, we only sell N95 masks that are NIOSH approved and FDA approved with a 510(k) for the medical markets. As a wholesale distributor of medical supplies, we are able to purchase N95 masks directly from leading manufacturers like 3M, Alpha Protech, and Makrite – the largest private brand manufacturer of face masks and disposable respirators in North America. By ordering N95 masks from an authorized medical supply distributor like Supreme Medical, you gain access to low wholesale pricing and ensure you are obtaining products that have been vetted by our quality assurance team.
The main concern with purchasing K95 masks (the Chinese counterpart to N95s) is that the CDC estimates that 60% of the KN95 masks on the market are counterfeit. We’ve all heard the horror stories of businesses and individuals receiving counterfeit KN95 masks from brokers and fly-by-night companies that popped up to make a quick buck during the pandemic. Rest assured that by working with Supreme Medical, you are partnering with a distributor that has a 25 year track record of delivering quality medical supplies at low wholesale prices you can count on year round.
Supreme Medical is an authorized distributor for leading PPE manufacturers like Alpha Protech, Direct Supply, Dukal, Dynarex, Makrite, Sempermed, and Vanguard. We carry a full-line of personal protective equipment including Bouffant Caps, Face Masks, Face Shields, Isolation Gowns, Latex Gloves, Nitrile Gloves, Shoe Covers, and Vinyl Gloves.