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KN-95 masks will be handed out to everybody at Super Bowl LV

You should still plan to bring your own mask to the big game. If you forget, the NFL will have some on hand.
Credit: AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes
A registered nurse stands on line looking to buy KN-95 face masks outside Masataco, a taco shop in Whittier, Calif., Tuesday, April 7, 2020.

TAMPA, Fla. — Face coverings will be required at Super Bowl LV given ongoing concerns over the coronavirus pandemic, and the NFL is making sure no fan will be left without a mask.

The league recently announced that every fan will receive a KN-95 mask upon entering the stadium. Staff members at Raymond James Stadium will get them too.

RELATED: NFL: Super Bowl LV preps on track at Raymond James Stadium

"We're providing every fan whether vaccinated or non vaccinated and every staff member with a KN-95 mask -- which is a really effective mask -- and they will be required to be [worn] during the game so that compliance is really, really important," Peter O'Reilly, the NFL's executive vice president of club business and league events, told CBSSports.com.

COVID-19 spreads from person to person through respiratory droplets, and a mask over the nose and mouth provides a barrier from viral particles reaching another person. 

"You should wear a mask, even if you do not feel sick," the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. "This is because several studies have found that people with COVID-19 who never develop symptoms (asymptomatic) and those who are not yet showing symptoms (pre-symptomatic) can still spread the virus to other people. 

"Wearing a mask helps protect those around you, in case you are infected but not showing symptoms."

Fans and employees need to wear a mask unless actively eating or drinking, the NFL said. Vented face masks and face shields that don't have a covering over the nose or mouth aren't allowed.

The onset of the pandemic last spring spurred people to go out to find face masks, with the N-95 respirator being most wanted. The CDC continues to say it and other medical masks should not be used by the general public as they should be conserved for health care workers.

Super Bowl fans will, again, be given a KN-95 mask if they don't have a mask of their own. So, what's the difference between it and the N-95?

Generally speaking, said Sean Kelly, founder of New Jersey-based PPE of America to Rolling Stone, "N-95 is the U.S. standard, and the KN-95 is the China standard." The former is approved for health care settings in the U.S., while the KN-95 mask has many of the same protective properties. 

A lot of masks, including the N-95, are made in China -- the distinction is on where they received certification, Rolling Stone reports. The CDC gives the OK for a KN-95 mask and its effectiveness to limit the spread of COVID-19 if N-95 products are not available. 

The quality of a KN-95 mask, however, can vary, according to CBS News. Experts warn people should take care when buying them online, like on Amazon, as some might not be able to provide the necessary protection against the virus.

RELATED: Testing doesn't prevent transmission of COVID-19; only masks, distance, and handwashing do that

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