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Comment & Response
February 25, 2020

N95 Respirators vs Medical Masks in Outpatient Settings

Author Affiliations
  • 1Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore
  • 2Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, University of California, San Francisco
  • 3Environmental Health Sciences Division, University of California School of Public Health, Berkeley
JAMA. 2020;323(8):789. doi:10.1001/jama.2019.20905

To the Editor In a pragmatic effectiveness study among outpatient health care personnel, Dr Radonovich and colleagues reported that use of N95 respirators vs medical masks “as worn by participants” resulted in no significant difference in the incidence of laboratory-confirmed influenza between the groups.1 An accompanying editorial suggested that the study findings can be generalized and used by hospital epidemiologists to argue against the use of respirators for protection of health care workers in outpatient settings against all respiratory viruses.2 However, the study has limitations—principally, the exposure assessment and potential for differential exposure between the study groups.