To the Editor:
I think it’s great that the government is making the N95 mask available for free. I’m fairly sure they will still be hard to get, so I would like to encourage those who scramble to get some just because they’re free, please don’t!
As a retired Respiratory Therapist, I wore the N95 more times and for more hours than I care to remember. You will feel safer with this mask, as well you should (IF you are using it correctly). However you shouldn’t expect to feel more comfortable with it.
• If they are fitting correctly, they will be quite uncomfortable, especially for all day use, but even for several hours. The fit will be uncomfortably snug on your face (hence the many photos of health care workers with red marks and ridges on their faces).
• You will have a sense of it being more difficult to breath — because it is. This level of filtration for virus also makes it more difficult for air to get through and there are no air leak portals around the edges of the mask.
• If you intend to wear it below your nose anyway, leave it for someone who will use it correctly.
• If you intend to just hang it on your rearview mirror, leave it for someone who will use it correctly.
• If you intend to just add it to your stash of cute cloth masks and well-used paper surgical masks, leave it for someone who will use it correctly.
The N95 is a valuable asset in the war against COVID-19, but if you do not use it properly, the only thing you are doing is keeping it from someone who could really benefit from it!
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