I started been leaving my building every two weeks beginning in October, for staycations (posts coming). It’s pretty unnerving being near people and now with all the new variants it’s worse particularly riding the bus. People still wear their masks completely ill-fitting so air is leaking out everywhere, below their nose or worse take like a chin diaper to yak on their phones.
I attempted to search for N95 masks but it’s impossible. You have no way of knowing if what you find is real or fake. Even if it’s stamped with an “approved” company name and code anything you purchase online is probably fake, manufactured by who knows who or who knows where in the world. Wearing a bogus N95 mask is like not wearing one at all. Anyway thanks to the NY Times I have found real N95 masks! (Clear your history and turn on pop-up blockers on your phone and you should be able to read it).
Essentially N95 masks produced in the US were made by companies who got into the mask business to help out early on in the pandemic (and make money of course). Unfortunately most healthcare institutions weren’t interested in buying them because either they are sticking with their regular suppliers (China) or for cost reasons. Remember even in ordinary times hospitals go through a ton of masks. So these independent producers had a huge inventory of unsold masks. That is until the NYTimes published their article. Now these sell out regularly.
The N95s typically have bands that strap over the back of your head, which is what makes them snug. They can be uncomfortable to wear for long periods.
The KN95s, which the Food and Drug Administration has approved for emergency use by health care workers, have ear loops for a tight fit that is slightly more comfortable than an N95. The downside is that the KN95 leaks a bit more air than an N95.
I picked an N95 mask (KN95’s are made in Korea) made by United State Mask in Addison TX, outside Dallas. I purchased them directly from the manufacturer. I rarely buy anything from Amazon and have heard horror stories about them selling bogus products. Currently the market is flooded with bogus masks.
These masks fit so tightly that I actually have more difficultly breathing in them than when I was triple masking (one paper, 2 cloth). If you want to go out for a cocktail these won’t work. If you want to pull your mask on and off an N95 won’t work for that. The straps would get stretched out and render it ineffective. I’m just wearing these on the bus and in stores. Otherwise out walking around or running downstairs to get the mail I just triple mask with paper and cloth. I’m using each one a few times before tossing. I come in take off my coat, wash my hands, take off my mask and then wash my hands again! TMI CDC Guidelines for N95 reuse
Where to buy real N95 masks – Splurgeworthy!
When I went to place my first order they were out of stock but had more available the next day (Feb 11) at 10AM. I set up my account the night before and made my purchase at 10AM the next day. I stayed on the website and they sold out in 7 minutes. They aren’t cheap. That first order was 20 for $44.95 plus $7.98 shipping or $2.64 per mask. More recently they offered 40 for $69.95 plus $12.39 shipping $2.06 per mask. I didn’t price out the KN95’s. I thought I’d support a US company. They usually ship in 3-5 days but my first order got caught in the Texas utilities failure so it took two weeks. If you can afford real N95’s I strongly recommend them!