The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) changed its advice for people in the US about wearing masks to protect against COVID-19 on Friday. They said “loosely woven cloth products provide the least protection,” but they didn’t recommend that everyone wear N95 respirators.

As the pandemic spread, critics said the CDC gave conflicting advice. On its website, it said that people can choose respirators like N95s and KN95s, including removing concerns about supply shortfalls for N95s.

Wear the most protective mask you can that fits well and that you’ll wear every day, the CDC said.

The United States has the most COVID-19 deaths in the world, with about 850,000 deaths. At the same time, the U.S. is fighting a surge in cases of the fast-spreading Omicron coronavirus variant. Some Americans don’t want to get vaccinated, which makes things more complicated.

On Thursday, Biden said that the federal government plans to give “high-quality masks” to all Americans for free, and he said that the government will do this. When the government starts shipping 500 million COVID-19 tests to people in the US later this month, they won’t be charged.

The CDC wants people to wear masks, not make them wear the best face protection, but it also said that respirators are the best way to protect people. It said that “cloth products that aren’t tightly woven offer the least protection.”

It’s important to remember that “any mask is better than no mask,” the CDC said.

Changes in the CDC’s advice on masking are based on what we’ve learned about masking in the last two years, since the pandemic began.

More people in the U.S. are now getting better protection because there has been a big rise in the number of cases.

The United States has the most COVID-19 deaths and new infections in the world, as well as the highest number of people in hospitals.

An analysis by Reuters says that the Omicron-related surge appears to be slowing down in places that were hit first, like states in the Northeast and South. 89 percent more people got sick in Western states in the last week than they did the week before.

It was last May when the CDC told people who had been vaccinated that they could remove their face coverings because COVID-19 cases were going down at the time, so they could. However, in July, the CDC said that people who had been vaccinated against COVID-19 should wear masks in public places where COVID-19 had spread quickly. The CDC’s mask recommendation covers 99.5 percent of US counties right now, they said this week.

Biden’s chief medical adviser, Anthony Fauci, said on CNN that Americans should get the best N95 mask they can tolerate and that’s available to them. Some N95 makers in the U.S. said they had record sales after Fauci said that.

It’s important to wear N95 masks correctly so that they filter out at least 95% of particulate matter in the air, stopping anything bigger than 0.3 microns from passing thru the mask.

On Monday, some employers in Los Angeles County, which is the most populous in the country, will have to give workers “medical-grade” masks, like surgical masks, KF94, KN95s, or N95s, if they’re at risk of getting COVID-19 on the job.

In the end, masks are still very different. It’s not the first time Joe Biden, a Democrat, has asked people to wear masks. About a third of Americans say they don’t wear masks at all. Many states that are more Republican don’t have rules about wearing masks. Some Democratic-run states, like California, have reinstated indoor mask rules.

One of Blair Childs’ jobs is to work for Premier, a group-purchasing company for hospitals. He was worried about a bill in the US Senate that would send three N95 masks to every person in the country. In her speech, Childs said that proposals like these could “disarray the health care supply chain.”

In January 2020, Vice President Biden ordered people to wear face masks on planes, trains, and public transportation, as well as in airports and other places where people travel. His predecessor, President Trump, didn’t do this. It took Biden a while last month to extend the transit mask rules until March 18. The CDC said on Friday that N95 masks could be used in places like public transportation “when greater protection is needed or desired.”