A newly released Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security at the Bloomberg School of Public Health report has detailed recommended federal policy changes regarding masks and respirators.
The report, Masks and Respirators for the 21st Century: Policy Changes Needed to Save Lives and Prevent Societal Disruption, determined disposable masks and disposable N95 respirators used by healthcare workers have not improved since the mid-1990s. The mask enhancement has been stifled by a number of factors, including market, a lack of competition, complacent consumers, regulatory barriers and a lack of government policy.
“Widespread public use of effective, commercially available masks and respirators could help save many thousands of lives during the next severe pandemic of a respiratory pathogen and reduce the resulting economic damage,” the report’s authors wrote. “The design and manufacture of more efficient, well-fitting, and comfortable masks are possible through support from federal action.”
Policy recommendations issued via the report include utilizing masks and respirators blocking outgoing and incoming respiratory droplets and aerosols consistent with or better than current relevant standards; greater use of enhanced reusable devices, such as elastomeric respirators, in healthcare facilities; and greater public use of masks as a means of preventing illness such as influenza while protecting from seasonal allergies and dust.