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Early on in the coronavirus pandemic, health experts identified that protective face coverings—including cloth, surgical, and N95 face masks—were an effective tool against preventing the spread of COVID-19. Now, with the introduction of the new mutant COVID variants, which have been confirmed to be more transmissible and possibly more deadly than the original, health experts are urging people to up their masking game. Read on to see what Dr. Anthony Fauci says makes "common sense" to stay extra safe from these more dangerous viruses—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.
Wearing Two Masks Instead of One "Likely Does" Protect You More, Says Dr. Fauci
During an interview with Today on Monday, Dr. Fauci, the chief medical advisor to the President and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, confirmed that one masking trick can offer you even more protection.
When asked if double masking—i.e. wearing one mask on top of another—offers even more protection than wearing a single mask, he revealed that "it likely does."
"This is a physical covering to prevent droplets and virus to get in," he explained. "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. And that's the reason why you see people either double masking or doing a version of an N95." Keep reading for more suggestions.
So Should You Wear an N95 or Double Mask?
While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does support the efficiency of N95 masks in preventing the spread of COVID, they do not recommend the general public wearing them. "Medical masks and N-95 respirators should not be used because they should be conserved for healthcare personnel," they state on their website.
However, Last week CBSN Denver's medical editor Dr. Dave Hnida, the station's medical editor, explained that wearing two handmade cloth masks provides an equal amount of protection as wearing an N95 mask.
"The reason for that is you do wind up getting more filtration of viral particles," Hnida said. "It becomes more of an obstacle course for the viral particle to make its way from the air into your nose and throat and then into your lungs."
Consider Wearing a KF94 Mask Under Your Current Mask
"I've just bought a new set of masks called KF94s that I really like," writes Tara Parker-Pope in a New York Times article about double masking. "They fit well, have added flaps to close gaps around the face and include a moldable band to tighten the fit around the bridge of the nose….The KF94 mask resembles an N95, with some differences. It's made of a similar nonwoven material that blocks 94 percent of the hardest-to-trap viral particles. But the KF94 has ear loops, instead of elastic head bands, so it won't fit as snugly as an N95 — although double-masking can help close any gaps." You can find KF94 masks on Amazon and at other retailers.
Don't Wear These Masks, Advises the CDC
According to the CDC, do not choose masks that:
"Are made of fabric that makes it hard to breathe, for example, vinyl
Have exhalation valves or vents which allow virus particles to escape
Are intended for healthcare workers, including N95 respirators or surgical masks"
How to Stay Safe During This Pandemic
Masks work, period. This is because the virus is most commonly spread via tiny, infected respiratory droplets released by an individual when talking, sneezing, laughing, yelling, or coughing. A mask not only helps you from potentially spreading the deadly virus to others, but also offers you a degree of protection. So follow Fauci's fundamentals and help end this surge, no matter where you live—wear a mask, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, get vaccinated when it becomes available to you, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.