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. This will help us control COVID-19 and be better prepared for future public health emergencies.”
Contest requirements and prizes
Many people try to avoid masks because they can be uncomfortable to breathe through. They can fog up glasses, make it hard to talk to others. And they don’t always fit snugly on people’s faces.
You must be a US citizen or legal resident to receive a prize.
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. You may not accessorize or modify NIOSH-approved respirators or FDA-approved surgical masks with anything like filters or additional head straps or ear loops.
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.
The prototypes will be tested to see if they meet filtration and airflow resistance criteria. And five winners will be chosen to split a $400,000 prize.
More details will be provided in the future regarding phase two of the competition.