The New York Times reports that, according to the C.D.C., wearing two masks may be better than just one to fight COVID-19. The C.D.C. says that wearing a more tightly fitted surgical mask, or layering a cloth mask atop a surgical mask, can vastly increase protections to the wearer and others.
New research by the C.D.C. shows that transmission of the virus can be reduced by up to 96.5 percent if both an infected individual and an uninfected individual wear tightly fitted surgical masks or a cloth-and-surgical-mask combination.
Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky, director of the C.D.C., said, “With cases hospitalizations and deaths still very high, now is not the time to roll back mask requirements. The bottom line is this: masks work and they work when they have a good fit and are worn correctly.”
While COVID deaths appear to be in a steady decline; researchers warn that a more contagious virus variant first found in Britain is doubling roughly every 10 days in the United States. The C.D.C. cautioned last month that it could become the dominant variant in the nation by March.
Masking is now mandatory on federal property and on domestic and international transportation, but while masks are known to both reduce respiratory droplets and aerosols exhaled by infected wearers and to protect the uninfected wearer, their effectiveness varies widely because of air leaking around the edges of the mask.
Dr. John Brooks, lead author of the new C.D.C. study, says, “Any mask is better than none. There are substantial and compelling data that wearing a mask reduces spread, and in communities that adopt mask wearing, new infections go down.”