Does double masking help protect against COVID-19?
Almost a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, scientists have detected several new strains of the virus that are more contagious. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) is now recommending double masking, which offers even more protection against COVID-19 than just wearing one mask. This is because wearing two masks means that they fit closer to the face, so there are fewer air pockets for viral pathogens to be transmitted. Double masking also provides two layers of filtration, reducing the amount of viral particles that can go through each layer.
1. How do I double mask?
The CDC currently recommends two different ways to double mask. The first method is to simply wear a cloth mask that has multiple layers of fabric. Many cloth masks that you can find online have two layers of fabric, which is essentially a double mask. The second method involves wearing a cloth mask over a surgical mask. The CDC doesn't recommend wearing two disposable masks at the same time, and they also don't recommend pairing any other type of mask with an N95 or KN95 mask. Keep in mind that the term "double masking" refers to double layering.
2. When and where should I double mask?
You should double mask anytime you're in a high-risk situation, especially when you're around strangers and indoors for an extended period of time, such as shopping at a grocery store, traveling at the airport, using public transit, and going to a medical appointment.
3. What about three or four masks?
Layering three or four masks won't provide enhanced protection against COVID-19 — there is no scientific data to support that at this time. What's more important is that you wear a mask consistently any time you're in contact with other people. You should also make sure that your mask fits your face well and covers both your nose and mouth.
Continue to stay healthy and safe
To continue staying healthy and safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, make sure to always wear a mask, social distance whenever possible, wash your hands frequently, double mask when appropriate, and get the vaccine when it becomes available to you.
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