Sure, you've had your COVID-19 vaccine, but face masks aren't going away anytime soon. Not only is mask protocol and social distancing *still* necessary in various areas and social situations, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). But the uptick in the Delta variant has proven these measures are even more crucial to help thwart further coronavirus transmission.
In a July 27 report, the CDC notes the average reported cases in late June was around 12,000. By the date of the report, that number had jumped to more than 60,000. "This case rate looked more like the rate of cases we had seen before the vaccine was widely available," the agency concluded. What's more, Delta is proving to be more infectious than other variants, with more than twice as many people becoming infected, including those who had been vaccinated.
All of this is to say that you're gonna keep needing a mask. The logic: Whether you're showing symptoms of COVID-19 or not, you can help avoid inadvertently transmitting the virus to others by wearing a non-medical, cloth-based mask in public.
When purchasing a fabric mask there are a couple of things to keep in mind. Shan Soe-Lin, PhD, a lecturer in global health at Yale University, told WH that the most important thing is to make sure your mask fits snugly with no gaps between the material and your face, and that it fully covers both your mouth and nose. It's also helpful if your mask has ear loops so that you can easily remove it without touching your face. A study published in Science Advances suggests that face masks that loop around your ears and cover your face are likely more effective in protecting the transmission of the virus than looser-fitting bandannas or neck gaiters like you might wear while running or hiking.
Luckily, there are plenty of online retailers selling cloth-based masks for delivery to your home right now. The best part? Many of these brands are also donating part of the mask proceeds to those impacted by the virus, relief organizations, social justice initiatives and more.
These are the best places to buy fabric face masks right now—but as masks are depleted and restocked, it's important to check the availability and ship time before ordering.