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Don’t put those masks away just yet. Though more and more people are getting vaccinated against Covid-19, this new strain of the novel coronavirus — known as the “Delta variant” — has emerged, that could be even more contagious than first thought. The best way to protect yourself from the Delta strain: getting vaccinated, and wearing a good face mask.
Here’s what to know about the Delta Covid variant, along with top-rated face masks for Delta that you can find online.
What is the Delta Variant?
According to the CDC, Delta is currently the predominant strain of the coronavirus in the U.S. and is “more more infectious” that previous variants. In fact, doctors say the Delta Variant is “more than 2x as contagious as previous variants,” and “leading to increased transmissibility when compared to other variants, even in vaccinated individuals.”
In two different studies from Canada and Scotland, the CDC says patients infected with the Delta Variant were “more likely to be hospitalized than patients infected with Alpha or the original virus strains.”
Of course, unvaccinated people remain at the highest risk of being infected with this Covid Delta strain, and they are at risk of transmitting the virus to others too. CDC data also suggests that the Delta variant might cause more severe illness than previous strains, especially in people who are unvaccinated.
Where Did the Delta Variant Come From?
Though officials are still working to identify exactly where the Delta variant originated from, a report from the CDC says it’s likely due to a SARS-CoV-2 mutation that originally surfaced in India. The first Delta case was identified in December 2020, and the strain spread rapidly, first in both India and the UK, and now seemingly around the world.
Can You Get the Delta Variant If You’ve Been Vaccinated?
While getting vaccinated is still your best bet to protect yourself from a Covid infection, the CDC has noticed that so-called “breakthrough infections” can happen in fully vaccinated people (though still far less often than infections in unvaccinated people).
Like Covid-19, you may not feel symptoms right away if you’ve been infected with the Delta Variant, and fully vaccinated people with Delta breakthrough infections may still be able spread the virus to others. However, the CDC says vaccinated people appear to be infectious for a shorter period of time.
What that means: the new strain of Covid is incredibly powerful, so even if you’ve been vaxxed, it’s important to still take measures to protect yourself — and others. That’s where a good face mask for Delta comes into play.
What Are the Best Face Masks for the Delta Variant?
According to new CDC guidance, the best way to protect yourself from the Delta Variant is by wearing a face mask. The CDC site includes an “urgent” recommendation for “everyone in areas of substantial or high transmission to wear a mask in public indoor places, even if they are fully vaccinated.”
Given what we know about the Delta variant, the agency says, both getting a vaccine and the wearing of masks are needed to reduce the transmission of this variant.
We’ve rounded up some of the best face masks for the Delta Covid variant that you can stock up on online right now. Note that these masks can help prevent the transmission of Covid, but they are not intended to replace vaccination and other doctor-recommended practices. If you are experiencing severe symptoms or think you may have come into contact with someone with Covid, you should seek out medical assistance immediately.
1. Blue Bear Protection N95 Masks
One of the best face masks for Delta is an N95 mask. Originally manufactured for use in laboratories and construction sites, the latest N95 masks have been re-designed for everyday wear as well. This set, from Blue Bear Protection, gets you a 20-pack of FDA/NIOSH-approved N95 disposable respirator masks that sit comfortably against your nose and face, with a strap around your head.
The company says the masks will give you “full protection” for at least eight hours of use. Note: It’s recommended that you dispose of the mask afterwards; this is not intended to be a reusable mask.
2. WellBefore NIOSH-Approved N95 Respirator Mask
US-based company WellBefore has just launched its first NIOSH-approved N95 Medical Respirator mask (NIOSH, or the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, is the federal agency responsible for workplace health and safety).
This mask features a super comfortable material that’s not scratchy against the skin, plus an adjustable “nose foam” that sits tight against the nose bridge to prevent fogging. Adjustable head straps make this N95 mask great for both big and smaller faces, to help you customize the perfect fit.
3. PureMSK Surgical Mask
We like the tri-fold design of these PureMSK surgical-grade masks, which are produced in the USA and designed for comfortable, all-day wear. The soft fold sits gently against your nose, while the lightweight material doesn’t feel suffocating against your skin. The unique shape contours well against your face for a snug, protective fit.
4. Boncare KN95 Masks
One of the best-reviewed KN95 masks on Amazon is from Boncare, known for their medical supplies like masks and digital thermometers. This deal gets you a 50-pack of five-layer KN95 masks in black. When it comes to protecting yourself against the Delta Variant, a KN95 mask is more protective than a regular three-ply disposable mask, working to help filter out 95% of particles in the air.
These masks have a 4.5-star review (out of five) from more than 2200 reviewers online.
5. är Face Mask Small Logo Black
We’ve tested this mask before, and it’s one of our favorite reusable face masks for travel, thanks to the silky-smooth material, which is lightweight and gentle against your skin. The mask also remains breathable under the replaceable nanofilter, which offers three layers of protection.
The company advertises this as a “self-cleaning” face mask, though what that really means is that the nanofilter lasts for up to 40 hours of continuous wear before needing to be replaced (see replacement filters here), while a “ViralOff” coating reduces the time in between machine washes.
6. Brave New Look Protective Face Mask (with PM2.5 Filter)
Brave New Look’s CDC-approved non-medical masks, are not only reusable, they also come with a set of four PM2.5 filters, which can filter out particles and airborne contaminants. The mask itself is made of a lightweight cotton and spandex blend, which feels natural to breathe through, even with a filter slipped in to the pouch. You can also use the filter for up to one week, and the mask itself can be machine-washed for re-wearing.
7. Under Armour Sportsmask
If you’re looking for more of a heavy-duty face mask to protect yourself from the Delta Variant, we like the Under Armour Sportsmask. Promoted by top athletes and stars like The Rock, the mask is made from a sweat-wicking material that keeps you cool and dry, while moisture is wicked away from the face and trapped inside an insert layer to prevent chafing. The structured mask is snug around the sides, but sits off the mouth for better breathability (I.e. it doesn’t press up right against your face). An anti-microbial coating keeps things fresh while a built-in UPF 50 coating protects your face from the sun.