What kind of mask should you wear to vote on Election Day?

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While more than 94 million people have voted already in the 2020 presidential election, amounting to more than 67% of 2016’s overall turnout of 138 million votes, voters who plan to cast their ballot in-person are doing so as coronavirus cases continue to surge nationwide. 

“Face the Nation” moderator Margaret Brennan spoke with former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb last week for insight on just what masks work best and are safest for those looking to vote on Election Day. 

Gottlieb said when it comes to masks that afford you the protection you need from others during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s quality that matters.

Gottlieb warns of “dangerous tipping point” a… 06:51

“A cloth mask may be 10% to 30% protective. A surgical mask, a level-two or level-three surgical mask, procedure mask, maybe about 60% effective. An N95 mask or an equivalent like a KN95 mask, which is the Chinese equivalent, or what we call an FFP2 mask, which is a European equivalent to an N95, that could be 90 to 95% protective,” Gottlieb said. 

“If you want to mask to afford you a level of protection, wear a higher quality mask. If you only can get a cloth mask, thickness matters and cloth masks with polyester in them and a combination of polyester and cotton do better,” he added.   

Gottlieb explained that masks largely serve two purposes: “One is to protect other people from you. So if you’re asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic, if you have a mask on, you’re less likely to expel respiratory droplets that can infect other people. The other purpose is to provide you some measure of protection if, in fact, you’re around people who are infected.”

His recommendation comes as the spread of the virus is accelerating in dozens of states, including across the Midwest and the Great Lakes region, while 15 states have a positivity rate above 10%. There is an expanding epidemic in all 50 states, he told “Face the Nation” on Sunday.

Gottlieb has also been optimistic that measures to protect those who choose to vote in-person would be taken seriously, but ultimately everyone has a personal responsibility to protect themselves. 

“I think when you go out to vote, the voting places are taking precautions. They’re sequencing people carefully. They’re cleaning the voting stations in between voters. Their lines are going to be long, but they’re going to take precautions inside those settings. And I think when people go out to vote, if they wear a high quality mask, they can adequately protect themselves,” he said on October 18.

“The biggest risk are the settings where we’re not on guard, where we let our guard down, where we are not taking those kinds of precautions. So I think you can vote safely, even in places where there’s high prevalence. But you’re going to need to be careful,” he added.

Since the outset of the pandemic, there have been more than 9.2 million coronavirus cases in the U.S., and the death toll surpassed 231,000, according to Johns Hopkins University.

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