Worried about the COVID-19 variants? Double mask!

Worried about the COVID-19 variants? Double mask!

By Van DoReynoso, MPH, PhD, Director, Public Health

If you are concerned about the new variants of COVID-19 and want to be better protected against the COVID-19 virus, you may want to double mask. New guidance from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends double masking to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The updated guidance follows the release of new research from the CDC which tested various masks in a lab setting and found evidence that combining a cloth mask over a surgical mask could dramatically reduce both the spread of the virus to others and exposure to the virus oneself.

The study 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 combo.

According to findings from a CDC study, wearing a cloth mask on top of a surgical mask helps improve the fit of the surgical mask. The closer fitting the mask is to your face, the fewer gaps there are where respiratory droplets carrying the coronavirus can enter your mouth and nose. Because layering masks reduces the porosity of your face covering, it's also more likely to do a better job of protecting you from those infectious respiratory droplets.

The CDC's latest guidance on improving mask fit now recommends:

  • Choosing a mask with a nose wire, which prevents air from leaking out along the top
  • Using a mask fitter or brace over a disposable or cloth mask, to prevent air from leaking out. These small, reusable devices cinch a cloth or medical mask to create a tighter fit and improve mask performance.
  • Make sure your mask fits snugly over your nose, mouth and chin: If the mask has a good fit, you will feel warm air come through the front of the mask and may be able to see the mask material move in and out with each breath, according to the CDC.
  • Add layers of material – either by using cloth mask with multiple layers of fabric or by wearing a disposable mask under a cloth mask.

For more information about local public health orders, guidance, and COVID-19 vaccine distribution in Santa Barbara County, please visit: https://publichealthsbc.org/