Updated U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines that suggest the public may don certain medical-grade masks as protection from COVID-19 could further complicate shortages in personal protective equipment required for frontline medical workers.

The CDC guidelines released last Thursday state that N95 respirators—the gold standard in the medical community and a requirement under the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s respiratory standard—“should not be used outside of health care settings because they should be reserved for health care personnel.”

Yet those same guidelines, which call for double-masking, include some details for the public’s use of “KN95” masks, which are also used in health care settings and are approved, under some conditions as pandemic shortages continue, as a substitute when N95 masks are unavailable.

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