The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Friday revised its guidance for Americans on wearing masks to protect against Covid-19, recommending donning "the most protective mask you can" while stopping short of advocating nationwide usage of N95 respirators.
The CDC, an agency critics have accused of offering shifting and confusing guidance amid the pandemic, clarified on its website "that people can choose respirators such as N95s and KN95s, including removing concerns related to supply shortages for N95s."
Americans should "wear the most protective mask you can that fits well and that you will wear consistently," the CDC added.
The United States leads the world in Covid-19 deaths - roughly 850,000 - even as it battles a surge of cases involving the fast-spreading Omicron coronavirus variant. Complicating matters is the refusal of some Americans to get vaccinated.
President Joe Biden said on Thursday that the federal government plans to make "high-quality masks" available to Americans for free. In another step, the White House on Friday said the government will begin shipping 500 million Covid-19 tests to Americans later this month without charge.