A year into the COVID-19 pandemic, it seems like we’re finally seeing that proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. Vaccine distribution is on the rise, businesses are opening up, and families and friends are reuniting again.
Despite those positive advancements, medical experts and scientists still urge citizens to take precautions and continue to wear masks for the foreseeable future.
This brings up a new question: Is one mask enough, and does double masking help decrease the risk to you or those around you?
Since early 2020, masks have proven what scientists and medical experts have always known: best practices and guidance can shift as more research is reported.
Masks have been credited as being a reliable tool in the spread of COVID-19. By the start of 2021, news headlines left many of us wondering if we should double down and wear two masks.
Wearing a mask is reported to help prevent coronavirus transmission, and many factors affect efficiency. To answer the “two-mask” debate, we’re going to cover two of the most important indicators of effectiveness: fit and layers.
Masks are often sold as “one-size-fits-all” products, and if you’ve tried on more than one over the last year, then you know that’s likely not the case. Some are too large or too loose, while others may not be large enough to cover your mouth and nose without creating gaps.
Any mask you wear should fit snug against the side of your face, eliminating spacious openings that can draw in outside, un-filtered air. In some cases, two masks can provide such a fit.
In February 2021, the CDC released their Maximizing for Cloth and Medical Procedure Masks to Improve Performance and Reduce SARS-CoV-2 Transmission and Exposure report.
This report catalogs the results of several mask scenarios, including a single surgical mask, a single cloth mask, and both masks combined. It also looked at the impact of mask alterations, specifically knotting the ear loops and then tucking in extra material where gaps typically occur.
Here’s a highlight of the results:
These findings suggest that if you’re wearing a basic cloth mask or a surgical mask, and you want to increase protection for yourself as well as those around you, double masking and/or the knotting and tucking method can help you increase protections.
There are other ways you can increase your protection without doubling down.
Other best practices to find the right mask for you:
There are a few times that health officials say you should avoid double masking.
If you’re wearing a KN95 or N95 mask, there’s no need to double up. Both offer significant protection, and wearing two isn’t necessary—it also may be harder to breathe. You should also avoid doubling up on surgical masks, as you won’t benefit from the snug fit that a cloth and a surgical mask combo provide.
Looking for a great mask to meet your needs? Here are our top TRU picks:
Check out our entire mask collection to find the right mask for you and your family.
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