Many people have got used to the new normal – looking for keys, wallet and mask before leaving the house. Well that could change a bit. Instead of one mask, people reach for two. Anthony Fauci, MD advocated the double masking trend towards NBC's Savannah Guthrie. "If you have one coat of physical coverage and you put another coat on, it's only reasonable that this is likely to be more effective …" said Dr. Fauci.
People expecting President Joe Biden's inauguration in 2021 may have noticed the number of double masks, particularly Pete Buttigieg, U.S. Secretary of Transportation, and Amanda Gorman, the Poet Laureate.
But is it necessary to start overlaying?
A mask has no magical properties, it works based on physics. Monica Gandhi, MD, Professor of Medicine at the University of California at San Francisco, co-authored an article on masking with colleague Linsey C. Marr, PhD. In it she explained that the mask does not “catch” particles like a sieve catches noodles, but rather slows them down relative to the air in which they are carried. This lets air in and out and keeps droplets in the mask.
Dr. Gandhi supports multiple layers in one mask. This is where double masking comes into play. “For maximum protection … members of the public can either (1) wear a cloth mask tightly over a surgical mask … or (2) a three-layer mask with an outer mask wear layers of a flexible, tightly woven cloth … and a middle layer of one non-woven, highly efficient filter material… ”, she explains in her article published in Med magazine in December.
Double masking does two things; It can improve the overall fit and reduce gaps, but it also adds an extra layer.
Something like an N-95 would accomplish the same thing. They are made of a special material and are tight-fitting. In a tweet last October, Dr. med. Esther Choo, why she was double masked herself with an N-95.
This leaves the N95 with a cheaper mask. So you can replace the upper mask and continue to use the N95. The Vice President helps us preserve our valuable PPE! https://t.co/LoE1QbdUDU
– Esther Choo MD MPH (@choo_ek) October 13, 2020
N-95s provide excellent protection and do not require a second layer like a surgical mask. Dr. Choo is an emergency physician and professor at Oregon Health & Science University.
People interested in a single-layer, three-layer mask need look no further than the mall, where retailers like Old Navy sell three-layer masks. Of course, the best three-layer mask has a filter layer, and users can upgrade their current masks by adding a surgical mask underneath or a coffee filter to add the coveted third layer. You can also find masks on sites like Etsy or other online retailers.
Not for everyone
Just because there are good reasons for a double mask doesn't make it a good idea for everyone. Carl Cameron, MD, chief medical officer at MVP Health Care, a New York and Vermont insurer, stated in an interview with Martha Stewart that fit and comfort are also important. "If wearing two masks gives a worse fit than one well-fitting mask, it can create a poor seal around your nose and mouth and reduce your protection," he said. Dr. Cameron also noted that if the two masks make breathing difficult or just uncomfortable, those reasons can cause people to touch their faces even more, which is a known way of contracting the virus as the virus travels into the lining of the Virus can penetrate eyes, nose and mouth.
Many health professionals seem to agree: a really good mask is fine, but two masks, especially one surgical and one homemade, are likely a good idea in some situations.
Talked to @MeghanMcCain on @TheView about masks
1 mask? 2 masks? More? and when?
So 1 mask for most normal outdoor things
1 high quality mask (KF94 is what I use) for indoor stuff
And if I don't have a KF94 available, I'll double up with the surgical / cloth mask https://t.co/munNXaaGXD
– Ashish K. Jha, MD, MPH (@ashishkjha) January 28, 2021
Dr. Jha is the Dean of Brown's School of Public Health.
Dr. Gandhi justified this in a tweet. "May I clarify" double masks "?" Our exact recommendation was either N-95 (hard to come by, uncomfortable, needs to be tested to fit) or surgically + fabric together against a fabric mask with a filter between two layers (like vacuum bag) and not always, ”she explained. Specify that these guidelines apply to "vulnerable people" or in specific situations, such as: B. in a crowded indoor area. "There is still (one) role for basic masks and only maximally when necessary," she continued, warning against layering more than two masks. More masks don't mean better, and too many masks can make them too impractical.
But what about the variants?
Variants of the original SarsCoV-2 virus got the news, and some are more contagious than the original virus. This leads to part of the double masking. “I started with double masking when I started to be a little smarter with the (new) variants,” says Lindsey Leininger, PhD. said Slate. Dr. Public health expert Leininger is a professor at the Tuck School of Business in Dartmouth.
It all comes down to fitting
A mask is only as good as its fit. Wearing a well-fitting, back-tied cloth mask with a surgical mask underneath is worth becoming a member of the Covid-19 prevention classics: contact limitation, social distancing, and hand washing.
Sabrina Emms is a science journalist. She began as an intern on a health and science podcast on Philadelphia public radio. Before that, she worked as a researcher studying the way bones are formed. When she's not in the lab or at her computer, she's in the moonlight as an assistant to a pig veterinarian and bagel baker.