The State of Michigan is now doing a bit more than prompting you to wear a face mask. It's been promoting that to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Now the state is giving masks to anyone who wants one. The state is embarking on a program to provide what many health experts claim is a safe and effective mask, known as a KN95 mask. reported in October that type of mask has drawbacks. ECRI, originally founded as Emergency Care Research Institute, reported its researchers were finding as many as 70 percent of KN95’s imported from China fell short of U.S. standards when comparing to a somewhat similar N95 mask.  The nonprofit ECRI went as far as to issue a hazard warning about the KN95 mask back in September. Both masks are supposed to filter at up to 95% of aerosol particulates. But a research team at ECRI found between 60 and 70 percent of the KN95’s that are imported to the US are not that effective. The team tested nearly 200 masks from more than a dozen manufacturers.

Dr. Marcus Schabacker, president, and chief executive officer at ECRI, said in a press release, “Because of the dire situation, U.S. hospitals bought hundreds of thousands of masks produced in China over the past 6 months, and we’re finding that many aren’t safe and effective against the spread of COVID-19. Using masks that don’t meet U.S. standards puts patients and frontline healthcare workers at risk of infection.”

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There’s no indication from the Michigan Health and Human Services Department whether the masks it is distributing have been tested prior to handing out. Director Robert Gordon says, “Wearing the right kind of mask is important. Today’s distribution of effective masks will help more Michiganders limit the spread of COVID to save lives and get back to normal sooner.”

The agency’s public release states, “Masking right includes wearing one of three options of masks that provide stronger protection: three-layered washable cloth face coverings, three-layered disposable masks or KN95 masks. It also includes wearing the mask correctly: having it secured over the nose and mouth and snugly fitting without gaps. KN95 masks are similar to but should not be confused with N95 masks that are intended for health care workers who are engaged as part of their work in higher-risk settings.”

You can locate a state mask distribution site here.

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