Experts suggest ways to add layers of protection against coronavirus. Are two face masks better than one?
With the rise in COVID-19 cases and the discovery of new, more rapidly spreading strains of coronavirus in the United States, it may be time to double the number of regular cloth face masks – literally – by wearing two at a time. Some epidemiologists say putting one mask on top of another can greatly increase protection against the coronavirus, especially if your regular mask is thin or loose.
“A mask is like an obstacle course for particles to pass through. Adding a second mask adds another obstacle band, increasing the likelihood that the particle will be captured before it gets to the other side,” said Linsey Marr, a virus transmission expert and professor at Virginia Tech.
Marr particularly recommends using a disposable mask under a tight-fitting cloth mask; this, she said, should block about 90 percent of infectious particles.
The CDC recommends against the following types of masks: mismatched masks (too loose or with large gaps), loose fabric such as fabric that allows light in one layer, with exhalation valves or vents, scarves or ski masks worn as a mask. Also, do not use masks made of materials that are difficult to breathe through (such as plastic or leather). Also, masks made of paper material have been shown to be more effective than fabric masks.