The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its mask guidance Wednesday to say that double masking and using a properly fitted mask are most effective in stopping the spread of the coronavirus.
The update came after a lab experiment that simulated respiratory breaths found that placing a cloth mask over a disposable mask or using a mask with knotted ear loops and tucked in sides reduced exposure by about 95 percent, Fox News reported.
The CDC is now recommending that people wear a mask that fits snugly on their face and one that has layers “to keep your respiratory droplets in and others’ out.”
The agency also advises Americans to pick a mask with a nose wire as well as a mask fitter or brace “to prevent air from leaking around the edges of the mask.”
Although the CDC recommends pairing a disposable mask with a cloth mask, it does not recommend wearing two disposable masks or combining a KN95 with any other mask.
BREAKING—CDC urges either **double-masking** or use **surgical mask with tight fit** to better protect against threat of new and more contagious variants of the coronavirus. Two methods substantially boost fit & protection, says CDC report. #COVID19 ? https://t.co/N4PCMSCDkQ pic.twitter.com/yA8HvpZnXt
— Eric Feigl-Ding (@DrEricDing) February 10, 2021
The update was announced by CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky during a White House coronavirus briefing, The New York Times reported.
“With cases, hospitalizations and deaths still very high, now is not the time to roll back mask requirements,” she said.
“The bottom line is this: Masks work and they work when they have a good fit and are worn correctly,” Walensky said.
The CDC announced in January that it had begun studying whether using two masks was more effective after Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said it “makes common sense.”
Dr. John Brooks, the CDC’s chief medical officer of the COVID-19 response, said it was waiting for “hard data” before making any adjustments to the mask guidelines, according to Fox News.
“We want to put out there all the options that are available to people,” he said at an Infectious Diseases Society of America briefing last month.
“If we can people to mask, period, that is the big first step,” Brooks said.
In lab tests with dummies, exposure to potentially infectious aerosols decreased by about 95% when they both wore tightly fitted masks, a new @CDCMMWR finds. #WearAMask that fits tightly to your face to stop the spread of #COVID19. More: https://t.co/gi3OLBCnWi. pic.twitter.com/Jt55LUECER
— CDC (@CDCgov) February 10, 2021
New coronavirus cases and hospitalizations appeared to drop last month, but the CDC cautioned that a more contagious variant of the virus originally found in Britain could become dominant in the United States by March, The Times reported.
Fourteen states and the District of Columbia have implemented mask mandates as of Feb. 1.
“Any mask is better than none,” Brooks said.
“There are substantial and compelling data that wearing a mask reduces spread, and in communities that adopt mask wearing, new infections go down.”
The new research, according to Brooks, shows how to enhance protection while wearing a mask.
He said that while the new study is only based on laboratory experiments, “it’s very clear evidence that the more of us who wear masks and the better the mask fits, the more each of us benefit individually.”
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