Double-Masking Increases COVID Protection, CDC Says
That’s what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday said about mask policy to protect against COVID-19, as new variants continue to emerge across the United States. The suggested protocol is to wear two facemasks simultaneously — a surgical N95 mask with a strong facial seal as the first layer and a snuggly-fitting cloth mask over that. Doing so, research suggests, drops the likelihood of virus transmission to more than 95%, particularly when mask straps are knotted around the ears for a tighter fit.
The potential benefits of wearing multiple masks were discerned through new research findings the CDC released Wednesday. Those findings are not expected to result in new facial covering recommendations from the CDC.
However, mask wearing has proven to limit the spread of coronavirus in areas where the practice is widely observed. Creating a better facial seal through a surgical mask and adding an extra layer of protection is likely to increase protection, based on the CDC’s research.
N95 masks have been proven to be harder to breathe in than other masks over longer periods of time, though they are the most protective surgical masks in circulation. They are also still in short supply in many areas of the United States.
Two new variants of COVID-19 have been detected in Hawai‘i to date, including the B117 variant, which has been proven to be up to 60% more contagious than the initial strain. It is not yet widespread throughout the islands, though community spread of the variant has already been detected.