The COVID-19 pandemic is currently the biggest threat the United States is facing at the moment, along with the rest of the world. This disease is caused by a new species of coronavirus called the SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, since the SARS-CoV-1 already exists), which is why COVID-19 stands for coronavirus disease 2019, as the virus was discovered almost a year ago.
Now, with more than 10 months of living in the pandemic, and although there’s still a lot to learn about this virus, we now have a much better understanding of the negative effects this disease can have on the human body. In January, the situation was scarier since the virus was completely unknown, but the efforts of scientists and experts in all fields have led to incredible breakthroughs.
One of the things we now understand a lot more is the way the virus is spread from person to person through droplets of fluids containing the viral particles, which can reach other people’s respiratory tracts and affect them. For this reason, the majority of the year we’ve been focused on spreading awareness on the use of the face mask.
However, there’s one particular face mask that has been considered the best one when it comes to virus protection: the N95 mask. This mask is incredibly important in healthcare settings since these represent the highest risk of exposure to the virus. The demand for these masks increased so much because of this, that shortages became frequent in the majority of the USA. Hospitals, which need to make bulk and wholesale purchases of these items, struggle to even find them for sale, even in online stores.
In this article, we’ll discuss how to buy N95 masks in Oregon, and their availability in this state.
Can you find N95 masks in Oregon?
As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, N95 masks have been the most affected item by the shortages of PPE (personal protective equipment) that have been causing healthcare centers across the country to have workers decontaminate and reuse the existing ones, when these masks are intended for single-use.
Oregon isn’t the exception, but they’ve learned from the initial shortages reported earlier in the year, and which were more prominent during the spring. As cases of COVID-19 are increasing again, and a new peak, maybe even worse than the first one, is expected, Oregon has worked during the last several months to build a stockpile.
The state has a warehouse that has been stocked with all types of medical PPE, including almost 4 million N95 respirators, 10 million surgical masks, along with other necessary items like gowns and gloves. The warehouse is receiving shipments of new PPE every day, which are all directed to supply healthcare facilities and hospitals, which are the only centers at the moment urged to obtain these supplies.
Understanding the importance of N95 masks
N95 masks have been deemed the best type of face mask with antiviral properties. They’re better at filtering viruses than surgical masks and reusable cloth masks, which is why they’ve become a crucial item in the PPE used in hospitals and all types of healthcare centers.
The name of the mask is established by the NIOSH classification of respirators. NIOSH stands for National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and they were created as a part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to prevent occupational illnesses.
Respirators are regulated by them because they represent the most effective way of protecting workers against particles known as respiratory hazards, which are very diverse and are present in many work settings. When they’re inhaled, they damage the airways in many different ways depending on the particle, and respirators prevent them from reaching the respiratory tract by filtering them out from the air the wearer inhales.
The NIOSH classification is based on two characteristics after which respirators are given a name. The names consist of a letter, indicating the oil resistance, and a number, indicating the filtration efficacy.
The letters can be either N, R, or P, meaning not resistant, somewhat resistant, and oil-proof, respectively, and this indicates how well the respirator can filter out particles that contain oil.
The numbers are 95, 99, or 100, and they’re percentages of minimum particulate filtration efficacy, indicating the number of airborne particles (those with a size as small as 0.3 micrometers, capable of traveling long distances through the air) the respirator can trap and filter out.
Based on this explanation, it’s easy to understand the name of N95 masks, which may seem cryptic at first. N95 masks can filter out 95% of the non-oil-based airborne particles a person inhales. Some examples of such particles include viruses, like the one that causes the flu or our biggest threat at the moment, the SARS-CoV-2, making them helpful in healthcare settings. But they can also have many other uses since they can also filter out dust, smoke, pollen, and other particles that meet the characteristics mentioned.
For virus protection, they’re often paired with some form of eye protection, like goggles or face shields. Some popular models used in the healthcare field include the 3M 1860, and in other industries, the 3M 8210 and 3M 8511 are also widely popular 3M N95 masks.
Protection against COVID-19 is very important for our healthcare providers since they’re closely exposed to the disease every day. Medical-grade masks and respirators like surgical masks, N95 masks, and KN95 masks must be prioritized and reserved for them during these times.
For the general public, the use of reusable cloth masks is recommended in combination with the practice of social distancing and hygiene of the hands. These can be used by kids once they reach an age above 2.