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The Biden administration launches a $500,000 contest to improve face mask designs

April 4, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

Compression ratio: 52.4%. 1 min read.

President Joe Biden speaks about the southern border during a meeting in the State Dining Room of the White House, Wednesday, March 24, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

We all know face masks can be troublesome to wear. They can irritate your skin, hurt your ears and fog up your glasses.

(CNN)We all know face masks can be troublesome to wear.

That's why the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has launched the $500,000 "Mask Innovation Challenge" to find new and effective masks people will find more comfortable to wear.

Contest participants have until April 21 to submit innovative ideas that would help eliminate common concerns that come with wearing masks while making sure they effectively protect against the coronavirus.

"We know that properly and consistently worn face masks help reduce the spread of SARS-CoV-2 and other respiratory infections, but many people are reluctant to wear them for a variety of reasons," Nikki Bratcher-Bowman, the acting assistant secretary for preparedness and response at HHS, said in a press release.

"With this mask challenge, we want to get people across the country involved in developing new masks that are both effective and comfortable.

Up to 10 winners will be chosen in the first phase of the challenge and will split a $100,000 prize, with each person taking home up to $10,000.

The masks will be judged by their filtration efficiency, inhalation airflow resistance, fit and other test methods depending on the design.

No masks designs are permitted to use sprays or drugs that can be inhaled or absorbed in the skin, nose or mouth, according to HHS.

During the second phase of the contest, participants can submit prototypes "that leverage research on the filtration efficiency of materials and meet the criteria including filtration, fit, comfort, and how easily the design can be manufactured on large scale," the HHS release said.

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