Skip to Content

As mask mandate returns, so do the questions about what masks are most effective

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) --As the mask mandate is reenacted across Oregon Oregon, the questions of how well various masks protect against the more contagious delta variant are being asked.

Dr. Rebecca Hicks, a pediatrician with Mosaic Medical, said the way to make any mask effective is by making sure it fits the face well.

“Not only is the makeup of the mask important, but how well it fits your face is really important," Hicks said Tuesday.

N95s, surgical and cloth masks are the most-used masks. and although N95s offer the best protection, they can be hard to come by.

They are also recommended to be used for health care workers.

"A standard N95 is really intended to be used one time. Now, when we have a shortage of these things, sometimes we use them more than once -- and this has turned out to be okay and probably a good decision for somebody that doesn't have N95 available," Hicks said.

Reusable versions are also available.

"The benefit of a reusable one is that you can completely wipe it down and clean it off, and change the filter when you need to," Hicks said.

While cloth masks provide the least amount of protection, Dr. Hicks said people find them more comfortable.

Betty Block, a professor visiting downtown Bend, said she found a way to personalize some of her masks, making them more pleasant to wear, with certain masks carrying special memories.

"My research team came to my house, and as a thank you gift, gave me a beautiful hand embroidered mask with a seam that goes down the middle and it’s so comfortable to wear," Block said.

St. Charles Health System President and CEO Joe Sluka recently provided this mask guidance:

N95s offer the best protection against COVID-19 and the Delta variant, but please be aware: The Centers for Disease Control says health care workers and others who work in hazardous conditions should have prioritized access to them.

KN95s are your next best option. They provide the same level of filtration as N95s but are certified differently. If you buy some, look to see if they meet requirements set by the National Institute for Occupational Safety (NIOSH).

Surgical masks are easier to acquire, more comfortable and more affordable. However, they are also harder to fit properly, which can lead to gaps between the mask and your face. With the Delta variant now dominant in Central Oregon, a well-fitted mask is more important than ever, so look for masks with adjustable cords, ear loops and nose wires to help improve fit.

The effectiveness of cloth masks depends on how porous the fabric is. Look for cloth masks made of multiple layers of tightly woven, breathable fabric. One way to test a mask is by holding it up to a light source and seeing if the mask blocks the light. You can also double up with a cloth mask over a surgical mask for extra protection.

If you’d like to dig deeper into the different types of masks and their effectiveness, please be sure to seek out a credible source. Here’s a great page of information courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control.

St. Charles provided this guide to relative effectiveness of masks
Author Profile Photo

Leslie Cano

Leslie Cano is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Leslie here.



  1. Why exactly is an N95 more effective than a KN95? According to the CDC & the NIH the masks are identical. The only difference is the KN95 is made in China. St. Charles proves again that it is a racist organization! This time it’s Asians! They are running out of groups to hate!

          1. You cant tell us you linked to “true science and factual information” then drop a link to the That’s misleading the masses Barney.

      1. Wear a mask if it makes you feel safer. Your link supports what a lot of us have been saying. Surgical masks, bandannas do nothing to stop an airborne or aerosolized virus.. They might be effective at stopping droplets but that’s about it. If people use common courtesy and coughed or sneezed into ones elbow it can also stop the spread of droplets just as effectively as wearing a face diaper.

  2. I roll with my full face n100 respirator. N95 filters 95% of particulates down to 1 micron where N100 filters down to 99.97% and .3 micron. Now, we all know the COVID flu is .1 micron but whatever. As long as we feel good we should be safe right?

  3. I strongly recommend that all who do not already have N95 respirators go to and buy N95 respirators. They are a non-profit and do not make any money off your purchase. They thoroughly vet all sources. In fact at this point, they get nearly all products directly from the manufacturer. I am not affiliated with the organization. They are the only source I know of that you can truly rely on for getting N95 respirators that are not counterfeit. If I were you, I would not trust any other source offering N95 respirators that are not counterfeit or fraudulent. Keep in mind N95 respirators are single-use items. Do not reuse N95 respirators. Please plan your purchase quantity accordingly.

    All frontline workers (including medical professionals), I strongly recommend that you go to , register as a frontline worker, and buy as many surgical N95 respirators as you need to avoid respirator reuse and comply with pre-pandemic OSHA and infection control regulations, policies, and standards, including a new surgical N95 respirator per patient.

  4. For those of you who just want to bitch back and forth at each other with the proverbial I’m right, no I’m right, no I’m right and throwing insults toward each other without providing any links with hard facts to support your claims, this may be boring reading for a lot of you but it is factual.

    The most resent research I did (today) on the size of the Covid 19 virus is between 0.1 to 0.5 microns. Which contradicts the research I did about a year and a half ago claiming it was 0.1 to 0.15 microns. Based on the most recent chart I was able to find (10/10/2020) the human hair is between 50 to 180 microns. Fine beach sand (whatever that means) is 90 microns and a grain of salt (again, whatever that means) is 60 microns. A respiratory droplet (which is what the CDC is referring to regarding masks and their effectiveness) is 5 to 10 microns in size. A single dust particle is 10 microns, and a grain of pollen is 15 microns in size. The limit of what the naked eye can see is 10 to 40 microns. Though I find hard to believe the human eye can see something smaller than that of a new born babies hair. Assuming it is 50 microns in size.

    To help those of you (fear mongers mainly) who are having difficulties in visualizing all of this I’ll simplify it for you by using the measuring system of millimeters. First of all, a single millimeter is equivalent to .0393701 of an inch. That’s just a shade bigger than 1/32″.

    It’s late and my brain is a bit fried from all of this, so, if my math is off and someone can show me my errors no offense will be taken. A single millimeter is equivalent to 1000 microns. The Covid19 virus is 0.1 to 0.5 microns and converting that to millimeters is .0001 to .0005. So, if you were to slice a single millimeter into 10,000 slices the largest Covid19 virus would be 5 of those 10,000 slices and the smallest would only be one of those 10,000 slices.

    Regardless of what the CDC says, politicians say or what anybody else says, here’s the truth in masks and how well (or not) their effectiveness is. The blue & whits procedural masks worn by the vast majority of people is like wearing a condom with holes in it. The effectiveness is only 38.5%. So most of you wearing these types of masks are spewing out 61.5% probabilities of spreading the virus. The single layer woven polyester gaiter is 37.5% effective and those individuals are spewing out even greater probabilities of spreading the virus. My cotton bandana double folded provides greater protection than both masks I mentioned with an effectiveness of 49%. The various masks and their ratings are listed at the following EPA link. The only real protection are the N95 masks.

    The bottom line here is, if the virus was truly, and I mean truly, as bad as the over reaching, control freak, fear mongering, politicians claim it is (especially the drool dribbling ghost of a leader who spends more time in his basement eating oatmeal and watching Sesame Street) most of these masks would be prohibited from usage. The current mask mandates are a hoax and is pure BS. A class action law suites should be file against the Brown clown for violation of our constitutional rights for “Freedom of Choice”. And that’s your education of the day from me folks. Unlike BLM & ANTIFA, resist peacefully and just say no to the Brown Clown show.

    1. is like wearing a condom with holes in it – but it makes so many feel better about themselves. One point I would like to disagree with you though – nobody is spreading the virus, mask or not, except those few who have it.

          1. Has the CDC changed the statement they made in regards to vaccinated people spreading the virus? If the statement they made was false then why wouldn’t they set the record straight themselves? I do not recall retracing statements.

              1. The link you provided supports my argument that vaccinated people can carry and transmit the virus. Sounds like we agree on something. Hallelujah, it’s a miracle.

      1. I agree with you about the feeling good nonsense and their false sense of security they have wearing one. However, in the last part of your comment there is only some truth to what you say. There was something that just occurred to me as I read your post. What about the people who have not been vaccinated or have not gotten Covid19 and are A-symptomatic? They have the probabilities of spreading the virus without realizing it. I’m not advocating for wearing masks, just advocating common sense practice.

        When I still see men in public restrooms not washing their hands after using the toilet, (which includes some of you reading this) I can’t help to think they are part of the problem. As the youngest newly formed country (without relabeling the country’s name) we have evolved, progressed and achieved more since our infancy (1602) than any other country in the world, and yet, some folks still can’t wash their hands after using the toilet. This is why the bacteria freekazoids want to sterilize everything which only impedes our own natural immune system from building up a natural immunity.

        1. So what’s your solution to the overfilled hospital? How do you expect St. Charles to handle all of these sick people? What’s your solution to the overworked doctors and nurses? Sounds like you would rather want us all in a lock down instead? Right now St. Charles has 56 patients for Covid with a total of 30 ICU beds.. including Redmond facilities.. 8 in ICU and 6 on ventilators.. So tell me .. since you can complain about your freedom.. what about the solution.. do you have one? I would love to hear it..

        2. who have not been vaccinated or have not gotten Covid19 and are A-symptomatic? They have the probabilities of spreading the virus without realizing it. — Still back to you can’t spread it if you haven’t gotten or don’t currently have it.

      1. That leaves you with a 62.5% probability of getting Covid19 and spreading it. You’d be better off using common sense practices than wearing your gaiter mask. Would you use a condom knowing it had holes in it? You’d pull out before anything happened. That’s the common sense practice people should use. And the fear mongers try to guilt people into wearing masks.

    2. Yes, next time you go to the dental office please tell this to your dental hygienist when she’s trying to clean your teeth with a mask on.. please.. so we can all just stop pretending.. that when a person is coughing or sneezing is primarily when the mask comes into play. You know.. and wait.. how big are those particles by the way?

  5. The only mask that will truly work to stop anything is a Firefighter Positive Pressure Air Breathing Apparatus. SO we might as well just come to our senses and forget about masks.

  6. None of them work, or we would be done with this already. Everybody wore masks in the beginning. Everybody. Until it started showing that they do not work. We all wore them until the third shut down, number still climbed and bounced around. They don’t work, we don’t need fake studies that say they work, we’ve seen they do not work with our own they say numbers are climbing again, ive personally known over a dozen people who have been tested in the last month that tested positive with no symptoms, numbers aren’t real. You all want this to end, stop getting tested. If you feel sick just stay home.

    1. “You all want this to end, stop getting tested. If you feel sick just stay home.” EXACTLY! If your symptoms get worse, go see the doctor as I did.

      When I got Covid19 it took three ER trips before they kept me and the first two were dismissed as no big deal. As a matter fact, the second ER visit, they kept me overnight for observation as per the cardiologists request. When they discharged me the next day the treating doctor (a VA resident) said “They were going to discharge me.” My response was “What!, are you kidding?” His response was “We can’t keep you here, you just have Covid”. I was back the very next day and there I stayed. It was a bit odd to me that the day after the first two ER trips I felt fine but the third ER trip is what really kicked me in the butt.

  7. Why is it that a cloth blocks out Covid which is super small, and yet people that have to work around mold have to have a mask that perfectly fits around their face and if they smell smoke being put in front of them then they have to re-due it took make sure something way bigger then Covid doesn’t get in?

    1. Read my post regarding masks and their effectiveness. Very few cloth masks are effective and depending on what type of cloth mask you use the effective range is only between 26.5% to 79%.

    1. Yes! And I like my bandana too. As long it’s 100% cotton double folded you have a 49% effective rate. Better then the blue & white procedural masks (38.5% effective) most people wear.

  8. So many facts in this comment section, and the bullies haven’t showed up to call people names yet. This is great! Feels like a normal educated society…for now.

      1. I don’t buy into the fear mongering at all and you are one of the lucky ones. I’m 66 (now) and in December it kicked my butt from here to Chi.. oops, I almost said it. The place I will never go to. In any case, it kicked my butt all over the place. Glad to see you were one of the fortunate ones.

        1. My niece had it and her major complaint was that she couldn’t smell anything. She’s in her late 50’s. The vast majority of people don’t die “from” COVID,they die “with” it. Most all had underlying conditions contributing to their deaths.

    1. Nope! In 2009 Obummer depleted our stockpile of N95 masks and never replenished them. He left Trump empty handed and America “Naked and Afraid”.

  9. For all you liberal minded people here’s a little test for your mask theory. If you can smell your own fart through your mask well your gonna get the virus if it comes into your mask. Just saying.

Leave a Reply

Skip to content