Where to buy N95 masks following updated CDC federal mask guidance
Masks are no longer required on public transportation or in public places. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continues to recommend masks for travel, releasing a new statement on May 3 upon the expiration of their previous mandate that required masks, which was struck down by a judicial decision in the federal court system.
Are you looking to up your stash of N95 masks for upcoming travel in light of this news? You're in luck, because N95 face mask availability is high, and N95 prices are lower than ever.
Top products in this article:
Our most popular N95 mask: Kimberly-Clark N95 duckbill mask (50 pack), $58
Best per-mask price: Honeywell N95 Flatfold Respirator (50 pack), $44 (reduced from $51)
Small pack of N95 masks: 3M Aura N95 respirator (3 pack), $10
The CDC still recommends that everyone age 2 and older wear a mask or respirator in indoor areas of transportation and in transportation hubs, such as on airplanes and in airports. This public health recommendation is based on "an understanding of domestic and global epidemiology, circulating variants and their impact on disease severity and vaccine effectiveness, current trends in COVID-19 Community Levels within the U.S., projections of COVID-19 trends in the coming months" and more.
What to know about N95 masks before you buy
N95 masks offer the best protection against COVID-19, as they're designed to filter at least 95% of all airborne particles larger than 0.3 microns when the mask forms a tight seal on your face. This means an N95 mask will be your best protection against the BA.2 Omicron subvariant that's spreading through the Northeast, when combined with social distancing.
It's important to pick up an N95 mask that's approved by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Find the full list of approved N95 brands here (and all the picks below are NIOSH-approved, naturally). Beware: There are counterfeit N95 masks online, so be sure to check the brand name on the NIOSH site, and to shop at trusted retailers to avoid ending up with a fake N95 face mask.
One more thing you should know about N95 masks -- you can rewear them. The CDC says that health care professionals can rewear an N95 mask up to five times before its thrown out. Experts note, however, that you should discard a mask sooner if it no longer forms a tight seal on your face, or if it gets dirty or wet.
We've found protective N95 face masks available at Honeywell, Amazon and more below.
Benehal N95 Mask Particulate Respirators (20 pack)
These NIOSH-approved masks have four filter layers and feature an adjustable nose clip. The double elastic head straps eliminate pressure on the ears and is meant to make wearing the mask more comfortable.
Benehal N95 Mask Particulate Respirators (20 pack), $18 after coupon (reduced from $53)
Honeywell DC300 N95 particulate disposable respirators (20 pack)
This new Honeywell design is made to fit more face shapes and minimize pressure points. It comes in a pack of 20.
Honeywell DC300 N95 particulate disposable respirators (20 pack), $30
Kimberly-Clark professional N95 pouch respirator (50 pack)
If you're willing to purchase 50 at a time, these duckbill N95 masks from Kimberly-Clark have a large breathing chamber for comfort and soft but strong headbands. After a short period of unavailability, these N95 masks are back in stock at Amazon for quick shipping, so grab them before they sell out (again).
Kimberly-Clark professional N95 pouch respirator (50 pack), $58
3M N95 8210 respirator (20 pack)
These 3M masks prevent eyewear fogging and have a foam cushion for maximum comfort on your nose. They're currently on sale at Amazon for less than $1 per mask.
3M N95 8210 respirator (20 pack), $18 (reduced from $30)
3M Aura N95 respirator (3 pack)
These disposable N95 masks by 3M feature an adjustable nose clip, chin tab and a low-profile design that directs air away from the nose panel to reduce eyewear fogging.
3M Aura N95 respirator (3 pack), $10
Honeywell Safety DF300 N95 Flatfold disposable respirator (50 pack)
This N95 face mask has a soft foam nose cushion for maximum comfort. Its humidity- and moisture-resistant filter media repels moisture. At $0.88 per mask, these Honeywell N95s are one of the best N95 mask deals out there.
Honeywell Safety DF300 N95 Flatfold Disposable Respirator (50 pack), $44 (reduced from $51)
What you need to know about free N95 masks
The Biden Administration announced a plan to make 400 million N95 masks available to Americans for free through local pharmacies (such as Walgreens, CVS and some supermarkets) and local health centers.
Supplies are limited to guarantee availability, and children's masks will not be available (at least at first). And unlike the free at-home COVID-19 tests offered by the government, these free N95 masks cannot be shipped. So if you need a reliable supply of N95 masks delivered, you'll have to open up your wallet and choose one of the N95 options above.
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