Almost a year into the coronavirus pandemic, many Americans have adjusted to wearing a mask whenever they leave their homes to go out in the world.
Now, however, experts and the public alike are starting to wonder if one mask is enough to protect against Covid.
Why Do People Want to Wear Two Face Masks?
In recent months, a new and more contagious strain of the virus has started to make its way across the country and the world. Because it’s more infectious than the existing strain, people are beginning to look at how to protect themselves even more. One of the solutions for those who aren’t vaccinated yet is doubling up on face masks.
What Does the Science Say About Wearing Two Face Masks?
Scientists are hard at work trying to figure out both this new Covid strain and what people can do to protect against it. So far, it’s too early to tell if the double mask strategy is universally effective.
Overall, the initial data is generally inconclusive. One November 2020 study that’s yet to be peer-reviewed said that wearing two masks may prove safer than just one; this is especially true if those masks aren’t made of premium materials. But other preliminary research found that the quality of both masks matters greatly in determining their effectiveness compared to some of the higher-functioning ones, like an N95 mask.
Another major factor of effectiveness? It depends on if the person wearing those masks uses them correctly. For example, if your nose isn’t protected by those masks, that renders both masks ineffective in terms of stopping Covid, even if they’re over your mouth.
Should You Wear Two Face Masks Now?
People will still need to individually decide on their level of comfort and safety, but experts say it wouldn’t be a bad thing to wear two masks for errands or activities where they may be many people present, like going to the grocery story or heading to a doctor’s appointment. Many people are opting to wear medical masks like the KN95 (Buy on Amazon, 20 for $40) or KF94 (Buy on Amazon, 20 for $34.89) with a cloth mask over it.
As long as you can still breathe relatively easily through your masks, a little extra protection never hurts.