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Mask collections may give you fashion options, but now some are simply unreliable

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - After nearly two years of collecting and wearing masks, knowing which ones are the most reliable continues to be a question for many people.

Clearly medical officials say the tightly fitted, medical grade N95, KN95, and KF94 masks are the best, but so many people have other masks that felt good, looked good and seemed to do the job just the same.

Now, the very aggressive Omicron variant might be defeating those mask designs and infecting people with the coronavirus. At least that's the latest message.

With that, a pile of fashionable masks may not get much use under the circumstances. Even those with your company logo, or that shows support for your favorite sports team.

It's not just for your protection, but for the protection of others.


"I feel like everybody in Santa Barbara right now knows somebody close to them that has gotten sick with COVID," said Ed France on a bike break along the waterfront.

A Santa Barbara visitor Susan Lanot wore a mask with lips on the outside. "I started kind of researching about stepping up the masks and the different qualities that they are having. I started doing some independent research on my own. "

Medical leaders say your mask may look thick and protective, and in some cases colorful,  but the recommended medical style masks leave no doubt on protection.

CEO of Marian Regional Medical Center Dr. Scott Robertson said, "there is a certain amount of standardization with medical grade masks.  There is a consistency and one could conclude that if you are wearing a medical grade mask you know you are at least protecting others from any droplets that you may be exhaling."

Charles Osiris was walking outdoors with a mask by his neck and ready to pull it up as needed. "I think the N95 are the most responsible.  No question.   I think that was the initial plan when everything first started and it think it got a little relaxed."

Wearing a mask with a tight fit as required is the best protection but, "it's definitely not super fun for multiple hours to be wearing masks but it  beats being sick," said France.

He has also worn two at once. "With Omicron being so contagious, If I am going to be inside in a confined space I do the double mask. "

As  more people get sick, and rules get tighter,  many people are reconsidering what they are wearing.

Sean Lambert had a solid, full face, thick cloth mask on but it was not an N95. "You know for me as long as I am wearing a mask that is all that matters and as far as any regulations I am willing to comply."


 One visitor says he doesn't wear a mask and doesn't go into a business that requires one.
Harrison Brown has avoided masks and the regulations inside. "If the business wants people to wear a mask that is their choice, it is their property.  If they don't that's also their choice."

For more information go to: California Department of Health Mask Requirements

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John Palminteri

John Palminteri is senior reporter for KEYT News Channel 3. To learn more about John, click here.

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