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Should I double mask?!

Masks Staying Safe

A: Signs point to yes. 🎱

TL;DR: In situations where you can’t avoid crowded indoor spaces such as shopping or traveling, double masking with a tighter fitting cloth mask over a medical mask can provide extra protection.

We’ve all heard by now that the new B117 variant may be more transmissible, possibly via its ability to latch onto our cells more efficiently.

While we’ve emphasized that this hasn’t changed the laws of physics (the virus can’t suddenly jump through walls or last longer on surfaces) it might require *less* virus and *less* time in the same room with an infected person you to catch it.

When the virus ups its game, so should we. Double masking can be an extra shield to deny the virus that chance to enter our nose or mouth and latch onto your cells.

“A mask is like an obstacle course for particles to get through,” according to Dr. Linsey Marr from Virginia Tech. A second mask “increases the chance that the particle will be trapped before it gets through.”

While N95 masks are the gold standard and block 95% of particles, they are critical for medical personnel and not widely available to the public. *Authentic* K94/K95/FFP2 masks also provide good protection, but counterfeits abound.

The material in surgical masks provides good protection but these are often loose fitting, allowing air to flow in and out from the sides. A tight-fitting cloth mask around the surgical or other non-N95 mask can help seal those gaps AND add extra obstacles to that airborne particle obstacle course.

BOTTOM LINE: Double masking is advisable in high-risk indoor environments.

😷 The medical mask should go *under* your cloth mask
😷 The goal is to improve fit and reduce gaps around the sides of mask
😷 More than two masks are not needed
😷 Don’t forget to…COVER THAT NOSE (lots of ACE2 receptors in the nose)

Remember that even double masks are not *magic* and can allow some leakage of air. It’s important to do your best to avoid crowded indoor spaces, maintain a safe distance, limit the duration and number of interactions, and roll up your sleeve for the vaccine when it’s your turn.

Stay safe and #StaySMART!

Love,
Those Nerdy Girls

P.S. Nerdy minds think alike! Please also read our awesome partner Friendly Neighbor Epidemiologist ‘s post today on double masking.

Further reading:

Recent DP post on the importance of mask fit and pros and cons of different types available

Great summary article and Dr. Linsey Marr quotations

“You Need to Upgrade Your Mask Now: Here’s How”

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