With the high level of community spread of COVID-19 and now new, more transmissible strains of the virus, it is more important than ever to wear a high-quality mask when you are out in public or inside around anyone who does not live with you. Because medical quality masks were in short supply at the beginning of the pandemic, and N95 masks (which offer the best protection and can filter out at least 95% of infectious particles) were needed for health care workers, the public was advised to use cloth masks. For some time now, medical/surgical masks have been available and are superior to cloth masks. But scientists say even surgical masks, which do not fit tightly, may not be enough to protect against these new variants of the virus, especially when people are indoor spaces with other people, such as grocery stores. The recommendation now is, at a minimum, to double up on masks, with the surgical mask as the base layer, and a cloth or other surgical mask on top – making sure to wear over your nose and ensure a tight fit around your face and chin.

Because the N95 mask is the gold standard but can be more expensive, Lockridge Grindal Nauen’s partners have decided to provide all employees with some N95 masks for themselves and their families to wear for the next few months until everyone can be vaccinated. The masks are NIOSH, CDC, and FDA approved, and can be used repeatedly, especially if you only wear them for short periods of time. Experts say that rotating a couple masks is enough for disinfection. Every few days, place the N95 in a non-airtight container such as a paper bag, and let it sit for a day or so. You only need to toss the mask when it no longer fits well, the elastic bands have gone soft, or it is soiled. Use hand sanitizer before putting them on and taking them off, and handle them gently as a good, tight fit is essential.

Should you have any questions regarding masks, or other workplace safety topics including implementing and revising safety protocols and policies to reflect the evolving science and knowledge about COVID-19, please reach out to Susan Ellingstad at seellingstad@locklaw.com or (612) 596-4074.

Susan E. Ellingstad
Partner
seellingstad@locklaw.com
(612) 596-4074