Dr Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said on Monday that two masks are better than one.
He explained that masks prevent respiratory droplets from spreading to other people, and provide the wearer a degree of protection.
“So if you have a physical covering with one layer, you put another layer on, it just makes common sense that it likely would be more effective,” he said in an interview.
“That’s the reason why you see people either double masking or doing a version of an N95.”
Other experts back Dr. Fauci’s advice, saying that wearing a surgical mask underneath a cloth face covering provides more protection.
One of them is Dr. Martin Cohen from University of Washington’s Department of Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences, who recommended the practice in the past.
“If your first line of protection is not significant, like a scarf, you can put on another layer,” he said.
“Obviously, the more layers you have of fibers between one person’s mouth and the other’s, there is less risk of spreading infection.”
“The idea is that it should be snugly fit without making you uncomfortable,” he added.
A study published by Dr. Loretta Fernandez in the peer-reviewed journal Matter found that wearing two masks has a chance of increasing protection from virus particles by 50% up to 75%.
“We found that the particle removal efficiency of many surgical style masks could be improved by up to 50% by simply snugging the mask material to the face,” she wrote.
“In the lab, we did this by adding a nylon stocking, but also tested other elastic layers such as gators and tights and found that they also solved the problem of cutting off air leaking in from around the mask.”
Some experts are more concerned about people who do not wear any face covering at all.
“The idea of double masking just simply means that you’re paying attention to wearing a better mask than you might have been before,” said Emory University infectious disease expert Dr. Colleen Kraft.
“If people would just wear masks in general, we would actually be fine against the variants.”
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