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Should You Be Double Masking? The Reasons Why Wearing Two Masks May Be Advised

NewYork-Presbyterian sheds light on the reasons why wearing two masks may be advised and which masks offer more protection.
NewYork-Presbyterian sheds light on the reasons why wearing two masks may be advised and which masks offer more protection. Photo Credit: NewYork-Presbyterian

With the recent spread of new coronavirus variants, some people have begun wearing two masks at the same time—double masking. Last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new guidance that confirmed that wearing well-fitted masks or wearing two masks offers added protection.

Here are some tips from NewYork-Presbyterian Lawrence Hospital to understand the different kinds of masks and why it might make sense to start double masking.

Is double masking a good idea?

The CDC now says double masking is one way to improve protection from the virus. A second mask can help serve as an additional barrier, and some experiments have shown exposure to potentially infectious aerosols decreased by about 96% when dummies were double masked.

Social distancing, avoiding crowded indoor environments when possible, and hand hygiene are still important steps to take to prevent transmission.

What are the most important features of a face mask?

Fit and filtration are the most important features of a mask as the fit prevents air from leaking out and filtration blocks the potentially infectious droplets. (See the chart for more information about mask types.)

One way to check the fit of the mask is to cup your hands around the outside edges of the mask and breathe in/out several times, checking to see if air leaks out the sides or near your eyes.

What are some ways to double mask or improve the filtration of a cloth mask?

It’s recommended to wear a disposable mask with a cloth face mask fitted on top of it. The cloth mask provides an additional layer of protection while improving the fit of the disposable mask, which acts as a filter. Importantly, it is not recommended to wear two disposable masks on top of each other.

If you get the vaccine, do you still need to mask up?

Yes. Even those who are vaccinated should still wear a mask—or two—in public.

If you need a doctor, NewYork-Presbyterian Medical Group Westchester is offering in-person and video visits for new and existing patients. For a physician referral, call 914-787-2200 or visit nyp.org/medgroupwestchester.

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