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It’s flu season in the West. Here are four not-terrible, actually-maybe-kinda-cute flu masks we’d don to protect ourselves, and others

Dakota Kim  – January 22, 2020 | Updated January 28, 2020

A respiratory virus that can cause pneumonia has arrived in Washington State. Dubbed the Wuhan coronavirus due to its suspected origin in the Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan, China, it has sickened over 500 people in Asia and killed 17. One confirmed case is being quarantined in Everett, Washington after the passenger arrived at Seattle-Tacoma airport on January 15. Since we originally published this piece on January 22, several cases have been identified in California.

The Wuhan coronavirus, which has an official CDC name of 2019-nCoV or the 2019 Novel Coronavirus, is one of a group of viruses called coronaviruses that can cause cold and flu-like symptoms like a runny nose, fever, cough, sore throat, vomiting, diarrhea, shortness of breath, trouble breathing, and body aches. China has confirmed that the virus can be spread from person to person, and the CDC is recommending anyone who may have been exposed to an infected person to monitor themselves for symptoms for 14 days after contact. The CDC also recommends any travelers to Wuhan avoid contact with animals, alive or dead, avoid animal markets, and avoid sick people.

In the wake of a vicious flu that has disproportionately put children at risk in the United States this year, we’ve noticed more flu masks being donned in large metropolitan areas of the West. With the new Wuhan coronavirus and the likelihood of a 1918-like flu pandemic hitting us someday soon, we believe we’ll continue to see even more of these masks in future years.

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But we’re guessing more than a few folks feel a little silly donning these masks. Is it really so serious, you might ask, that I need to look like I’m heading into surgery? When a flu pandemic does happen, it will happen extremely quickly and will be deadly. The good news is this: flu masks might help protect you, but they definitely prevent you from unknowingly spreading viruses to others. Flu masks have long been popular in Asia, and in some pockets of the U.S., are becoming fashionable.

Here are five flu masks we’d wear, and not just to visit a sick friend in the hospital.

A Mask That Screams Sunset

We love this tree mask by Vogmask, a gold standard-bearer in the mask game, but we wouldn’t throw the butterfly one out the window either.

Garden Groovy

This purple and orange mask by Germ Freak by Dena Tyson feels fun and fresh, as if the flu were not a concern.

Just Like All the K-pop Stars

The ever-popular K-pop mask has become an international phenomenon with fans, and it can be yours too. A teddy bear, a smile, a zipped-up mouth, or silly gnashing teeth—these masks show your personality even though your mouth is hidden.

Aim for the Stars

You know we love astronomy, so we are definitely here for this pastel stars mask by Cupboardd Creations.

All the Prints That Are Fit to Wear

Silly Grin Studios makes a variety of superhero, animal, and sports team masks, but it’s the ones featuring various prints that we love, like their polka dots and this understated caramel marbled mask.