It took me a while to always remember to grab my mask whenever I would leave my apartment in the early days of NYC’s lockdown in the spring of 2020. Now, two years later, it’s became second nature to wear a mask and I would feel strange without one on my face in any indoor public setting. Going for a walk or being outside is another story. I’m fine without one on. The possibility of being maskless indoors, however, is going to take some getting used to.
I overheard similar concerns yesterday as I waited in the checkout line at a local CVS on the Upper West Side in Manhattan. An older woman who was standing near her friend on the checkout line was saying, loudly enough so most everyone in the front of the CVS store on Broadway could hear, that she was not likely to be taking off her mask. “You don’t know if someone near you has a new Covid form,” she kept saying. I assume she meant a new variant.
That’s the problem. We won’t know, and can only trust in the vaccines we’ve had (even though half the reports say the immunity to them wanes over time) and our masks.
After our vaccinations, there’s no question that we all need a good mask to increase our odds of not getting Covid. The public service announcements for what constitutes a “good mask” are coming thick and fast. There should be no tiny air spaces between your face and the mask, so the ubiquitous blue surgical masks have fallen from grace. They don’t hug your face.
The gold-standard of masks, the N95’s that we were told not to buy in 2020, so they could go to healthcare professionals, are now readily available online. The fine print for many of them say they are ‘NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) approved for at least 95 percent filtration efficiency against certain non-oil based particles’. The ones I have (and I bought a few to try from 3 different manufacturers) fit like a second skin on my face. The problem are those elastic bands, one around your head and the second around your neck. I can handle an hour with them on and then my face and skull begin to rebel. (If I have the courage someday to attend a play in NYC, and the mask mandate is still in effect, it had better have no more than a 1 hour running time.)
The KN95’s, the ones with the ear loops, are definitely easier and more comfortable to wear. However, my glasses fog up with one of them on. I assume if my breath is capable of escaping to fog my glasses, then those teeny-tiny Covid particles have a way in, too. So they’ve fallen a few notches down on my personal mask “Favorites” list.
I’ve already thrown out all of the cute cloth masks I bought on Etsy in March and April of 2020. Cute as those gingham patterns were, they also didn’t pass my Glasses Fog test.
The N95s are definitely the Top Mask in my mask basket. No glasses fog. No air pockets. Just pain.