News Flash - The government is sending these respirator masks to your local pharmacies and your city/county health departments. The masks will be available to the public for free while supplies last.
HOPE’s goal is for members to continue to deploy and do in-person visits safely and effectively despite the pandemic. HOPE’s stance is founded in regulatory guidelines from resources such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Because of the infectious nature of the Omicron variant, the CDC updated recommendations for wearing a mask (respirator) with a
higher degree of protection. The goal of this communication is to raise your awareness by conveying information and providing resources by which you may purchase and care for these new tools.
The CDC recommends the following masks (Respirators): the N95; the KN95; and the KF94.
These masks, also termed respirators, offer a higher degree of protection than cloth, surgical or procedural masks. For the sake of this communication, we are going to use the terminology “masks”. Please always wear these masks indoors whether vaccinated or not. Use this link to learn more information about these recommendations: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/types-of-masks.html.
Fit: Finding a mask that fits properly and is comfortable will make it easier to consistently wear throughout your deployment. Since there is a variation in styles and fit, this may require purchasing one or several of these masks. We have provided a link to help with fit. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pGXiUyAoEd8)
Purchase: In an effort to keep our members safe, we advise you to search your local pharmacies or local hardware stores for N95 masks and KN95 masks. Try to stay with name brands such as 3M to avoid any counterfeit masks. Sometimes local stores do not have adequate supply. To make your search easier if you must purchase from an online distributor, and protect you from purchasing counterfeit or defective products, we have created several links to reputable vendors who carry authentic masks:
Storage and Care: In order to increase the effectiveness, caring for these masks is important. Current recommendation is to use one mask a day while rotating through 3 to 4 masks. After use, each mask should sit from 3 to 5 days in a cool dry place. This allows the virus to die. Many recommend placing the mask in a paper bag when at rest. It is recommended not to use a mask more than 5 times/40 hours of use. This link will give you more details on mask care.
Additional Recommendations: Do not touch the mask while wearing it. Make adjustments only to the straps. If you touch your mask or straps, wash your hands with hand sanitizer or soap and water.
Avoid: Avoid the use of cloth masks, procedural or surgical masks while the Omicron variant is
still dominant. Avoid storing your N95 or KN95 or KN94 in plastic containers which may at one point hold food.
Our goal is for HOPE to continue to deploy and do in-person visits safely and effectively despite this pandemic. Please wear your mask, wash your hands frequently, and social distance when able. Stay safe out there. Thank you for all you do to help people in crisis.
Additional resources and links for your education:
HOPE Animal-Assisted Crisis Response
VISION: HOPE is dedicated to deploying, upon request, certified working canine teams trained to provide support to every person affected by stress and trauma in order to live a healthier, more balanced life.