Story at a glance
- Experts like Anthony Fauci are beginning to recommend using two face masks.
- If you can, upgrading to a more clinical or medical grade mask may prevent a COVID-19 infection.
One mask or two?
Health officials are saying one face mask may not be the most effective way to prevent contracting or spreading COVID-19.
As more-transmissible coronavirus variants are discovered throughout the country, experts are urging Americans to upgrade their masks if they can — or at least double them up. Some have already started doing so themselves.
At President Biden’s inauguration, it seems that many were already adopting the practice as the federal government steps up vaccine distribution.
"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," President Biden's chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci told NBC, chronicled by CNN.
President Biden, inaugural poet Amanda Gorman, Vice President Harris, Transportation Secretary nominee Pete Buttigieg, and his husband, Chasten Buttigieg, are among the high profile individuals who have reportedly been wearing two masks.
Double-masking is a sensible and easy way to lower your risk when you have to spend more time around others. https://t.co/nwr75WgeeE— The New York Times (@nytimes) January 24, 2021
Some experts are recommending adding a layer of a single surgical mask beneath a cloth mask for increased protection. People in high-risk categories may want to try this, according to Joseph Allen, an associate professor at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the director of the school's Healthy Buildings program.
"Aerosols — respiratory aerosols that people breathe — can build up indoors and they will accumulate unless they're removed through ventilation or cleaned out of the air through filtration," he told reporters.
Tom Frieden, the former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, also tweeted support for upgrading from cloth masks to more protective medical-grade masks, especially as new strains of COVID-19 arrive in the U.S.
Consider upgrading from a cloth mask to a surgical mask, or from a surgical mask to an N95/KN95/equivalent if available. Better masks may help reduce risk from more-contagious strains.— Dr. Tom Frieden (@DrTomFrieden) January 25, 2021