Yes, I know. It seems to be difficult for some to even wear a mask to help protect others and now I am suggesting you need to wear two. Before you think this is crazy, please keep reading. The double masking technique not only protects others, it will provide protection for you, too.
Getting started, remember different masks afford different levels of protection. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recommends minimum standards, and please note, all masks are not created equal. The CDC suggests the following for masks: Have two or more layers of washable, breathable fabric that completely cover your nose and mouth, fit snugly against the sides of your face and do not have gaps, and have a nose wire to prevent air from leaking out the top of the mask.
Also, the CDC does not recommend: Masks made of fabric that makes it hard to breathe, masks which have exhalation valves or vents which allow virus particles to escape, and masks intended for healthcare workers including N95 respirators because of supply problems.
Other things to consider: Wear a gaiter with two layers or more, or fold it to make two layers. The effectiveness of face shields is unknown and using just a face shield allows virus particles to escape.They are of limited use when it comes to aerosol spread. Ideally face shields should be used in addition to high-filtration, well-fitted masking to protect the eyes in particular from larger droplets. Scarves, ski masks, and balaclavas are not substitutes for masks. When fitting children be sure to use a mask made for children to ensure a proper fit.
Now you are probably asking yourself “What does all this have to do with double masking?“
And the answer is simple. Everything!
As you can see from the information listed above, there are quite a few dos and don’ts about masks. Double masking simplifies the process and should be an important tool for you to use. Double masking is significantly better than a single mask and achieves results almost similar to the gold standard, which is the N95 mask, and is an easy method to use.
To double mask use a disposable surgical mask and properly fit it over your nose, mouth and chin. Over this mask use a cloth mask as described above. The cloth mask provides a better seal for the disposable mask and easily provides safety for you and others. Also, as with all masks when they are worn for a time, the disposable mask gets discarded and the cloth mask gets laundered.
Double masking makes sense. It is a relatively simple step to keep you and others safe. You may want to consider double masking when you cannot properly socially distance or when you are not sure how safe others may be around you.
Recently, the New York Times reported the following statistics. Nationally, 1 out of 683 people have died of COVID-19. Statewide, 1 out of 541 have died of COVID-19 and 1 out of 472 in Lycoming County. Sobering news which points to doing anything and everything we can do to be safe, including double masking.
We all want to return to normal as soon as possible. If we all follow the guidelines to wash our hands, socially distance, wear a mask, avoid indoor gatherings and get vaccinated when it is our turn we can return as quickly as possible.
Let’s End COVID!
Joe Smith resides in Mill Creek township, is retired from the insurance industry, serves on a number on nonprofit boards and is a member of Let’s end COVID!