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Need a mask? Here is what you should know about your options

Dr. Thomas Russo, University at Buffalo's Chief of Infectious Disease, explains N95, surgical and homemade masks and the protection they offer from COVID-19.

NEW YORK — Governor Andrew Cuomo announced an executive order that requires New Yorkers to wear masks when they cannot properly social distance.

That executive order, announced on Wednesday, means many people will be looking to get masks. There are many different kinds available. 

2 On Your Side spoke with University at Buffalo's Chief of Infectious Disease, Dr. Thomas Russo, to find out more about the different options.

"For both airborne and respiratory droplet protection, an N95 mask is best," Dr. Russo said.

However, N95 masks are difficult to come by and are a priority for first responders and health-care workers. Dr. Russo said the next-best option is a surgical mask.

"The seal around your nose and mouth is not as tight, and therefore it doesn't afford the same level of protection for airborne transmitted agents as the N95's do," he said. "But they should serve the purpose pretty well for this new coronavirus."

Dr. Russo said if you cannot find either of those masks, a homemade mask will work reasonably well and said it is better than no protection at all.

If you want to make a homemade mask, Dr. Russo advises using a fabric with a high thread count. He said if you put the fabric up to the light and can see through it, the mask will not have as much protection. The thicker the fabric the more protective the mask will be.

If you are looking to purchase surgical masks from a store, it may be difficult.
2 On Your Side called Target on Niagara Falls Boulevard in Amherst and Walmart on Transit Road in Clarence on Wednesday afternoon. Both stores said they were sold out.

That means you may have to resort to the internet to purchase a mask. The Better Business Bureau wants you to be careful because it has seen fake websites popping up selling masks.

"Make sure you are dealing with a reputable seller, a website that is established that has its contact information that didn't just pop up on one of those selling websites" said Melanie McGovern, the communications director of BBB of Upstate NY. "You want to do your research before you give them any kind of money."

RELATED: Essential businesses providing face covers to employees per Gov. Cuomo's executive order

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