How effective is double masking?

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Workers wearing masks to protect one another from Covid-19.

Owen McAdams, Staff Writer

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released new mask recommendations, which includes guidelines for possibly wearing two masks. This raises the question of how effective can double masking be, especially when compared to somebody already wearing a mask. 

In a study done by medRxiv a website ran by Yale University which distributes reports about health and sciencesdouble masking produced 70-90 percent effectiveness when it came to properly filtering particles which could cause COVID-19. This shows clear discrepancy between wearing one or two masks, especially when compared with the almost 50 percent efficacy of just wearing a surgical or cloth mask separately show. The CDC found even more extreme results in their own study. When a standard surgical mask is also covered by a cloth mask over it, transmissions of the disease dropped over 95 percent.    

Dr. Stuart Cohen, Chief of Infectious Diseases and Director of Hospital Epidemiology and Infection Control at UC Davis, states that “Double-masking is a way of trying to turn your regular mask into a respirator-type scenario—where it is tighter, where you have added an extra layer, where the virus droplets have to do a lot more dancing to get through. So it protects both you and the people that you are with.” 

Dean of Brown University School of Public Health, Dr. Ashish Jha, elaborated upon this in an interview. “You do not need to wear two masks at all times,” he said. “When you are out and about in the public, if you are not around in crowds, any mask — one mask — is totally fine. The two-mask situation is really for high-risk things. So, if you are going to be in a grocery store for any extended period of time, if you are going to be indoors with a lot of people who are not part of your household for any extended period of time.” 

Dr. Anthony FauciChief Medical Adviser to President Joe Biden, has his eyes set on other goals, however. He believes that while they clearly improve standings against the disease, they would not be necessary to keep everyone safe, if people cooperate to get a handle on coronavirus.  

Dr. Fauci states there are multiple steps the public can take to keep everyone safe. “Searing of masks, avoiding congregate settings, keeping your distance, and washing your hands together. When the vaccine becomes available to you, to please get vaccinated.” 

For Fauci, priorities should be set on getting everyone in the habit of wearing masks in public places and practicing standard covid procedure, including frequent washing of hands and maintaining social distancing. 

“The discussion is changing, not the goalposts,” Fauci stated in a conference on Jan. 27, responding to a question about how many masks a person should wear. Later, he stated, “You know what would be a good start? If everybody wears at least one mask. I think that would be important.”