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ANSI Member COVID-19 News: CDC Updates Mask Guidance, NIST’s Low-Cost Radio System Could Trace Disease


The ANSI Federation and standardization community are stepping up with guidance, resources, and initiatives to support public health and safety and the nation's recovery. Suggestions for news items may be submitted to [email protected]. All submissions are published at ANSI's discretion.

CDC Updates Guidance on Masks and Respirators

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updated its mask guidance page, noting that some masks and respirators offer higher levels of protection than others, and recommending that Americans wear the most protective mask or respirator they can find that fits well and that they will wear consistently.

The CDC site specifies how to choose a mask or respirator for different situations, and clarifies that loosely woven cloth products provide the least protection, layered finely woven products offer more protection, well-fitting disposable surgical masks and KN95s offer even more protection, and well-fitting NIOSH-approved respirators (including N95s) offer the highest level of protection.

It notes: “When choosing a respirator, look at how well it fits and read the manufacturer instructions. These instructions should include information on how to wear, store, and clean or properly dispose of the respirator. Respirators have markings printed on the product to indicate they are authentic, see appropriate N95 markings and KN95 markings.”

The website also explains that while all masks and respirators provide some level of protection, “properly fitted respirators provide the highest level of protection.” Furthermore, “wearing a highly protective mask or respirator may be most important for certain higher risk situations, or by some people at increased risk for severe disease,” according to the CDC.

Access the January updates on the CDC Mask and Respirators webpage for more information.

NIST Unveils Low-Cost Radio System That Could Help Trace Disease Spread

A research team at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has designed and tested new devices that combine commercial Bluetooth radio hardware with NIST cryptographic features with the potential to trace how people and animals move through spaces and interact. Ultimately, NIST’s system could help identify contacts with some potential for transmission of an airborne virus such as SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19.

According to NIST, these devices might have an advantage over contact tracing typically seen with smartphones, which are not used consistently in certain settings and may be less private. The system uses a cryptographic method that combines public encryption keys transmitted over the radio to make a shared, secret key unique to each encounter.

Researchers measured the strength of the radio signals received by the devices to estimate distance between volunteers. They defined an “encounter” as occurring when device wearers came within 2 meters of each other for at least 15 minutes, based on the CDC definition of “close contact.”

Two devices that sense they are close generate a unique, encrypted encounter ID based on a random number, preventing cyberattacks that could result from broadcasting of device IDs. The encounter ID is not linked to the devices or the people wearing it, preserving privacy.

“This system lets us start to collect data about how people encounter each other that can help us create interventions to help stop spread of disease,” said NIST fellow Sae Woo Nam, noting that this system could also be used to track flocks of animals for food supply safety and security.

Read more about the device in NIST’s news item, and access additional NIST updates on NIST’s COVID-19 webpage.

See more ANSI member efforts in the ANSI COVID-19 Resource Webpage Highlighting Standardization Community Response.


Jana Zabinski

Senior Director, Communications & Public Relations


[email protected]

Beth Goodbaum

Journalist/Communications Specialist


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