Putting on a face mask is something almost all of us do every day to protect ourselves from Covid-19. But the advice about the best types and how to wear them has changed over time.
In the US, Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Joe Biden’s top medical advisor, tells Americans to “double mask” – that is, he wears two face-covers layered on top of each other.
“It just makes common sense that it would probably be more effective,” he said.
President Biden often wore two covers during his election campaign, and at his inauguration last week, several high-profile guests were seen wearing medical masks under cloth covers.
What’s behind this advice?
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not yet recommended double masking. However, a mask made with “two or more layers of washable, breathable fabric” is recommended”.
Face coverings with more layers and tightly woven fabrics are better because they block more particles. Medical masks also offer the wearer more protection than regular cloth face covers.
Placing two fabric face covers on top of one another improved efficiency from 50% to around 75% – and wearing a medical mask under a fabric face cover made it even more effective at filtering out particles.
However, the research is still at a relatively early stage and has largely been done under laboratory conditions rather than in the real world.
wearing two masks.