Amazon is increasing its supply of N95 masks for sale to the public. The masks are considered the gold standard in personal protective equipment in the U.S. and have been restricted since the onset of the pandemic so they could be allocated to health-based organizations and first responders.

Sales of the coveted N95s have been restricted in online sales because they block 95 percent of airborne particles that may contain viruses like coronavirus. Amid an ongoing shortage of available N95 masks, the white house reached out to Amazon about selling more masks made by small U.S. manufacturers. K95s have been available online throughout the pandemic. These masks are very similar to the N95s but are made in China.

Amazon took action after the Whitehouse call and is accepting some new domestic manufacturers into its marketplace.

Amazon says in the last two weeks, it has added numerous domestic mask makers and will keep working with more as they get certification for their masks.

More than 11 million counterfeit 3M N95 masks have been seized by the Department of Homeland Security recently

The confiscated masks were headed for frontline healthcare workers who rely on N95 respirators to protect them from being infected with and transmitting the coronavirus when interacting with Covid patients.

Another challenge that most of us don’t hear about is that small N95 mask manufacturers in the U.S. are in danger of losing their businesses because they can’t secure large-scale contracts with hospitals. They have thousands of masks sitting in warehouses with no one to buy them. So they’re opening up the opportunity to everyday consumers instead.

If you are attempting to buy an N95 mask online and want to make sure it’s legit, look it up on the NIOSH website, which maintains a list of approved N95 manufacturers. Every N95 mask for sale should have a NIOSH approval number that’s also printed directly on the mask.