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A medical worker fit tests an N95 mask to a hospital worker at the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Boston Healthcare system campus and medical center in Massachusetts earlier this month. The CDC recently updated its guidance on masks, saying N95 masks protect better than cloth. TNS

CLEVELAND, Ohio – The U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently updated its guidance on masks, and a study finds omicron is less severe among young children than the delta variant.

Cleveland.com is rounding up some of the most notable coronavirus news making headlines online. Here’s what you need to know for Tuesday, Jan. 18.

CDC updates guidance in favor of N95 masks

The U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently updated its guidance on masks, stating that N95 masks give better protection than cloth ones. But the agency stopped short of recommending that people wear only N95 masks, news reports said.

Well-fitting respirators, including N95 masks, which are approved by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, “offer the highest level of protection,” the CDC said.

“Loosely woven cloth coverings” offer the least protection, the updated CDC guidance says. Well-fitting disposable surgical masks and KN95 masks offer more protection.

Both N95 and KN95s filter out most virus particles, and must seal to the face to be most effective.

The updates “reflect the science on masking, including what we have learned in the past two years, and will provide people the information they need to improve how well their masks or respirators protect them,” the CDC said.

COVID-19 omicron infections less severe in children under 5, CWRU study suggests

COVID-19 infections from the omicron variant are less severe than delta variant infections in children under 5, a new study from the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine suggests.

Data showed significant reductions in health outcomes, ranging from a 29% reduced risk of emergency room visits to 71% reduced risk of mechanical ventilation for omicron infections in this age group, CWRU said in a statement. Pediatric COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations from omicron are rising in the United States. Children 5 and under are not eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.

Researchers examined the electronic health records of more than 79,000 children including more than 7,000 who were infected when omicron emerged and more than 63,000 who were infected when delta was prevalent.

The CWRU study compared the severity of clinical outcomes in children under 5 who contracted COVID-19 infections for the first time before and after the emergence of omicron in this country.

The study was released to preprint recently and has not been peer reviewed.

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