This filter for the front of an N95 mask could make it reusable

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Scientists came up with an experimental virus-blocking membrane that can be discarded so doctors can use the mask again. As governments around the world struggle to build up a supply of N95 masks for healthcare workers—navigating price gouging, counterfeit respirators, scammers, and fierce competition from other governments—some hospitals are still taking care of COVID-19 patients without adequate supplies, and reusing masks that were designed to be disposable. Read Full Story

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MIT researchers create a reusable silicone mask to replace the N95

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The mask can be easily cleaned after each use, so it could help solve supply issues. And it’s clear, which could help with communication. As new coronavirus cases spike in the U.S.—Florida alone now has 12 times more cases than the entire country of Australia—healthcare workers still face a shortage of N95 masks. Many hospitals are now reusing the masks, even though they’re intended to be thrown out after a single use. Various solutions for disinfecting masks or increasing the supply are in the works , but a new silicone mask now in development is designed to be used and sterilized repeatedly, and could be as effective as the gold standard of an N95 respirator. Read Full Story

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Ikea is making masks and sanitizer to help fight COVID-19

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Ikea stores are closed, but the company will be producing medical supplies. As hospitals have depleted their reserves of N95 respirators and hand sanitizer is in short supply, a wave of companies has stepped up to help: Apparel companies like Under Armour and Reformation are making surgical masks, and distilleries like Tito’s and Koval are making hand sanitizer. Read Full Story

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How to decontaminate an N95 mask in just 3 minutes

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Scientists have developed a method of steaming your mask in the microwave that kills all the viruses living on it. You have all the equipment you need at home. Months after mask manufacturers ramped up production of N95 masks in response to the coronavirus crisis, hospitals, clinics, and nursing homes taking care of COVID-19 patients are still facing shortages of the respirators. Because of the lack of supply for essential workers, consumers still can’t buy the masks in many stores, despite the fact that they’re one of the best lines of defense against the virus. And as COVID-19 cases spike in many areas, the problem will get worse. Read Full Story

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Why haven’t they designed reusable N95 masks?

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As the country faces a shortage of protective gear and healthcare workers are asked to keep masks in paper bags between shifts, why don’t we have masks that can be disinfected safely? One of the tragedies of the coronavirus crisis is the lack of protection for healthcare workers: With a shortage of N95 masks—the respirators that can help filter out virus-filled droplets from coughs or sneezes—doctors and nurses in the U.S. are begging the government to do more to increase production. In Italy and China, thousands of doctors were infected with COVID-19 in part because they didn’t have masks, gloves, or other protection. Many have died. Read Full Story

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If you don’t want to double mask, here’s how to make surgical masks more effective

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“Knotting and tucking” or using a mask-fitter results in big improvements to the effectiveness of existing masks. The more contagious COVID variant first found in the U.K. is now doubling in prevalence roughly every 10 days in the U.S. At the current pace of vaccination , some people won’t get shots until the end of the year. The collision of the growing strain and our slow vaccination rate is one reason masks are such an important tool now. But with N95 masks still in short supply, the CDC now says that layering two masks can offer similar protection. But it’s not the only solution: just making a surgical mask fit better can also help. Read Full Story

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This hoodie comes with a built-in mask

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You don’t need to carry your mask with you, you can just zip the hood—made of filtering material—up tight around your face. If you’re tired of wearing a DIY mask, a new hoodie offers another option: a built-in mask, made from a material that can (theoretically) filter out more germs than an N95 mask, zips up into the hood—which is itself a filter. The hoodie , which is available for preorder now, is the latest design from G95 , a company that also makes scarves that double as air filters. Read Full Story

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This UV-light ‘bug zapper’ can decontaminate 600 N95 masks an hour

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The best option is for doctors to not reuse masks, but during the shortages of the last few months, a team of engineers from Lehigh University helped a nearby hospital come up with a stopgap solution to make reusing masks safer. In a room at St. Luke’s University Hospital in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, sits an octagonal machine, 80 inches in diameter and about 5 feet tall, that glows with the bright blue of UV lights. It’s been nicknamed the “bug zapper,” both because it resembles an oversized one, and because, essentially, it zaps away the bug behind COVID-19. Using powerful UV-C lights, the device can decontaminate about 200 N95 masks with just 15 minutes of ultraviolet light exposure. That works out to about 600 masks per hour. Read Full Story

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Inventors have raised millions on crowdfunding sites to build better masks

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Despite a huge amount of focus on creating better PPE, some products don’t live up to the hype. In March, as COVID-19 cases spiked and supplies of N95 protective masks dwindled at the Bay Area hospital where her brother-in-law works, Megan Duong launched a local search for N95s. Along with her sister-in-law, Sabrina Paseman, Duong enlisted volunteers and tracked down 7,000 masks—barely enough to cover the needs of two hospitals for one day. “We just knew that it was not a scalable solution,” Duong said. Read Full Story

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This reusable mask is designed to fix the 28 major problems with the N95

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After SARS, the government outlined ways the N95 needed to improve. The new Octo Safety Device fixes most of those issues. During the SARS outbreak in Toronto in 2003, healthcare workers raised concerns about N95 masks, saying that the respirators were uncomfortable to wear for long shifts and could lead to headaches and shortness of breath. In the aftermath of SARS, the U.S. government issued a report arguing that the masks needed to be redesigned for future epidemics, citing 28 ways the masks needed to improve. Then the fear of pandemics faded from most people’s minds. But Tobias Franoszek and Natasha Duwin were working on making a new mask that fulfilled those benchmarks. Read Full Story

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The untold origin story of the N95 mask

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The most important design object of our time was more than a century in the making. It’s hard to think of a symbol of COVID-19 more fraught than the N95 respirator. The mask fits tightly around the face and is capable of filtering 95% of airborne particles, such as viruses, from the air, which other protective equipment (such as surgical masks) can’t do. It’s a life-saving device that is now in dangerously short supply . As such, it has come to represent the ineptitude , greed , and even hopelessness of the global response to COVID-19. Read Full Story

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