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Expert Advice: Two Masks Are Better Than One

Many individuals have adjusted to the brand new regular — checking for keys, pockets and masks earlier than leaving the home. Now, that is perhaps altering a bit. As an alternative of 1 masks, individuals are reaching for 2. Anthony Fauci, MD, endorsed the development of double masking to NBC’s Savannah Guthrie.  “When you have a bodily overlaying with one layer, you place one other layer on, it simply makes frequent sense that it probably could be more practical…” mentioned Dr. Fauci. 

Individuals tuning in to the 2021 inauguration of President Joe Biden may need observed the variety of double masks, notably on Pete Buttigieg, US Secretary of Transportation, and Amanda Gorman, the poet laureate. 

However, is it essential to start out layering up? 

Seeing Double

A masks has no magical properties, it really works as a result of physics. Monica Gandhi, MD,  a professor of Medication on the College of California, San Francisco co-authored a paper on masking with colleague Linsey C. Marr, PhD. In it, she defined that the masks shouldn’t be “catching” particles like a colander catches pasta, as an alternative, it’s slowing them down relative to the air they’re being carried alongside in. This lets air out and in and retains droplets caught within the masks.

Dr. Gandhi helps a number of layers in a masks. Right here is the place double masking is available in. “ For maximal safety…members of the general public can both (1) put on a fabric masks tightly on high of a surgical masks…or (2) put on a three-layer masks with outer layers consisting of a versatile, tightly woven cloth…and a center layer consisting of a non-woven high-efficiency filter materials…” she explains in her paper revealed in December within the journal Med. 

Double masking does two issues; it could enhance the general match and scale back gaps, but it surely additionally provides an additional layer.  

One thing like an N-95 would accomplish the identical factor. They’re product of a particular materials and are tight-fitting. In a tweet from October of final 12 months, Esther Choo, MD, PhD, defined why she double-masked even with an N-95. 



N-95s present wonderful safety and don’t require a second layer in the identical means a surgical masks would possibly.  Dr. Choo is an emergency doctor and a professor on the Oregon Well being & Science College . 

Upgrading it 

People who find themselves desirous about transferring to a single, triple-layered masks want look no farther than the mall, the place retailers like Old Navy are promoting three-layered masks. After all, the perfect three- layered masks has a filtering layer, and other people can improve their present masks by including a surgical masks beneath, or one thing like a espresso filter so as to add that coveted third layer. Masks will also be discovered on web sites like Etsy, or different on-line retailers. 

Not for everyone 

Simply because there are good causes to double masks doesn’t make it a good suggestion for everybody. Carl Cameron, MD, chief medical officer at MVP Well being Care, an insurer in New York and Vermont, defined in an interview with Martha Stewart that match and luxury are additionally necessary. “If sporting two masks supplies a worse match than one well-fitted masks, it may create a poor seal round your nostril and mouth and decrease your safety,” he defined. Dr. Cameron additionally famous that if the 2 masks make respiration harder or are simply uncomfortable, these causes may trigger folks to the touch their faces much more, which is a identified means of contracting the virus, because the virus can enter mucous membranes within the eyes, nostril and mouth.

Many well being consultants appear to agree: one actually good masks is okay however two masks, particularly one surgical and one home made, are in all probability a good suggestion in some settings.



Dr. Jha is the dean of Brown’s Faculty of Public Well being. 

Dr. Gandhi, in a tweet, subs tantiated this. “Could I make clear “double masks?” Our precise advice was both N-95 (onerous to get, uncomfortable, have to be match examined) versus surgical + fabric collectively versus one fabric masks with a filter in-between 2 layers (like vacuum bag) & not at all times,” she defined, specifying that these tips have been for “susceptible people” or specifically conditions, like being in a crowded indoor space. “There’s nonetheless [a] function for primary masks and solely maximal when wanted,” she continued, warning towards layering greater than two masks. Extra masks doesn’t imply higher, and too many masks may make them too impractical.

However what concerning the variants?

Variants of the unique SarsCoV-2 virus have been making the information, and a few are extra infectious than the unique virus. That is driving among the double masking. “I began doing the double masking once I began getting a little bit bit smarter concerning the [new] variants,” Lindsey Leininger, PhD. instructed Slate . Dr. Leininger, public well being professional, is a professor at Dartmouth’s Tuck Faculty of Enterprise.  

It comes down to suit

A masks is just nearly as good because the match. Carrying a well-fitting, tie-in-the-back fabric masks, with a surgical masks beneath it, is worthy of turning into a member of the Covid-19 prevention classics: limiting contact, social distancing, and handwashing. 

Sabrina Emms is a science journalist. She acquired her begin as an intern at a well being and science podcast out of Philadelphia public radio. Earlier than that she labored as a researcher, wanting on the means bones are fashioned. When out of the lab and away from her laptop, she’s moonlighted as a pig vet’s assistant and a bagel baker.

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