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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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A nurse holds up a sign to protest the lack of personal protective gear available in Orange, Calif. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Face masks have become a necessity in public life so all Americans can protect themselves and prevent the spread of the coronavirus, but medical masks can be hard to come by.

Why it matters: Some states and businesses are requiring patrons to wear some type of protective facial gear in order to enter establishments or be in public. Global mask shortages have made it difficult for even health care workers and essential workers to properly protect themselves in riskier environments.

Reality check: These masks will only protect if worn properly over the nose. The masks are not effective substitutes for handwashing or social distancing, and should be disinfected regularly or laundered for reuse. Here's what you need to know:

N95
An N95 with air filtering valve. Photo: Pierre Teyssot/AGF/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
  • Recommended only for health care workers on the front lines helping coronavirus patients, because of a shortage. Hospitals are asking businesses and the public to donate them.
  • Made of polyester and woven fibers to filter air and block 95% of particles from your airway. Some have filters for easier breathing.
  • Less effective for children and people with facial hair.
Medical mask
Photo: Li Zhihua/China News Service via Getty Images
  • Good at catching large respiratory droplets when the wearer sneezes or coughs.
  • Made of a synthetic, paper-like material that can block about 60%-80% of particles.
  • Disposable and should only be used once.
Homemade mask
Photo: Pat Greenhouse/The Boston Globe via Getty Images
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended the public wear non-medical masks when in contact with others.
  • Thicker material is better as long as it's still breathable: layering old T-shirts, a kitchen towel or a bandanna.
  • If you are buying handmade masks online, make sure they are made of fabric with a high thread count or of several layers of fabric.
  • Some have pockets to insert filters for added protection, like coffee filters, paper towels or vacuum bags, per the New York Times.

Go deeper: The race to make more masks and ventilators

Go deeper

7 mins ago - World

Russian authorities say Navalny has been transferred to hospital

Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been hospitalized, one day after his doctor warned that the jailed Putin critic "could die at any moment," Russia's prison service said Monday.

Why it matters: News that Navalny's condition had severely deteriorated on the third week of a hunger strike prompted outrage from his supporters and international demands for Russia to provide him with immediate medical treatment.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
18 mins ago - Economy & Business

The state worst hit by the pandemic

Data: Hamilton Place Strategies; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

When the coronavirus pandemic hit, the job facing governments was to save lives and save jobs. Very few states did well on both measures, while New York, almost uniquely, did particularly badly on both.

Why it matters: The jury is still out on whether there was a trade-off between the dual imperatives; a new analysis from Hamilton Place Strategies shows no clear correlation between the two.

The U.S. credibility chasm on climate change

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The biggest hurdle for President Biden in winning new emissions reduction commitments at this week's White House summit is America's on-again, off-again history of climate change efforts.

Why it matters: The global community is off course to meet the temperature targets contained in the Paris Climate Agreement. The White House wants the summit Thursday and Friday to begin to change that.

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