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Dr. Walensky says CDC not changing mask guidelines

Reports earlier in the week suggested the CDC was considering recommending higher quality masks

ST. LOUIS — With the omicron variant surging across the country and here in the St. Louis area, there's been so much written and discussed about the best mask you should wear.

Earlier in the week, The Washington Post reported the CDC was considering updating guidelines to recommend people wear higher grade masks such as N95 and KN95.

On Wednesday, Dr. Rochelle Walensky said guidelines were not changing, but the CDC will update its website with more information on mask options available and the different protections offered. She said the update on the website will allow Americans to make the best decision for themselves.

"...CDC continues to recommend that any mask is better than no mask,” Dr. Walensky said Wednesday. “And we do encourage all Americans to wear a well-fitting mask to protect themselves and prevent the spread of COVID-19, and that recommendation is not going to change.”

Walensky said the update will include the improved filtration that N95 and other masks offer.

RELATED: Yes, surgical masks offer better protection against COVID-19 than cloth masks

"What I will say is the best mask that you can wear is the one that you will wear and the one you can keep on all day long that you can tolerate in public, indoor settings and tolerate where you need to wear it," Walensky said.

White House COVID-⁠19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients said the White House is "strongly considering" options to make higher-quality masks available for Americans. Zients addressed the nation's current inventory of N95 masks on Wednesday.

"Today, N95 masks are widely available and the government has a strong stockpile of over 750 million masks for healthcare workers and first responders," Zients said.

This month, Mercy updated its guidelines for staff, patients and visitors.

It's no longer allowing people to wear cloth masks. People entering Mercy facilities must wear a medical-grade mask, including the popular blue surgical masks, N95 or K95. Patients and visitors who only have a cloth mask will be given a mask that meets Mercy's guidelines.