Putting on a mask is now as automatic as slipping on shoes before going outside. But it’s time to refresh your routine. With the CDC’s (and White House chief medical officer Dr. Anthony Fauci’s) latest recommendation to wear two masks or “double-mask” in order to stay safe amidst new variants of the coronavirus, procuring the right face masks feels more pertinent than ever.
Whether you wear one face mask or more, it should be a quality face mask. Studies have found that multiple layers of fabric in a mask increase filtration effectiveness from virus particles. By double-masking, a person increases the number of layers of fabric protecting their face, thereby upping the level of filtration. The more these grids layer on top of each other, the more likely holes are covered, which then creates more areas for respiratory particles to get blocked or trapped before they make it to your face. Another advantage of wearing two masks is that it helps with a snug fit. The CDC has not issued official guidance on double-masking, however, the evidence suggests two masks are likely more effective than a single mask.
Overall, according to CDC, N95 masks, which provide "ultrahigh filtration efficiency" are considered the best masks—but while those are in short supply due to demand among health care providers, doubling-up on "two less specialized masks … can provide comparable protection. "Double-masking can produce 70% to 90% efficiency for preventing transmission of COVID-19
One drawback of wearing two masks is that the multiple layers of material could make it harder to breathe. If you already have trouble breathing while wearing one mask, adding another may not be the best option.
3 ways to double your mask
Pull your shirt up over your mask
Add a filter to your current mask to your N95 mask
Insert a surgical mask underneath your cloth mask
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