New information about COVID-19 continues to arise, and the situation continues to change, so we need updates sometimes. This does not mean that the guidance from experts is untrustworthy or confusing. It means that you can keep up with the current information. New mask updates from the CDC add to what we already know about masks.
Wearing a mask continues to be one of the most important things you can do to reduce the spread of the virus.
We now have two new variants of the virus in the United States, both more contagious than the original. Health experts are now saying that this makes the fit of your mask more important than ever.
“We know that universal masking works,” John T. Brooks, medical officer for the Centers for Disease Control told The Washington Post. “And now these variants are circulating … whatever we can do to improve the fit of a mask to make it work better, the faster we can end this pandemic.”
One option is to wear two masks: a disposable mask under a cloth face covering. Laboratory experiments found that this reduced exposure significantly.
The reason it did so, researchers say, is that the double masking provided a better fit to the face and fewer air gaps.
New guidance from the CDC makes several suggestions:
DO choose masks that
Have two or more layers of washable, breathable fabric
Completely cover your nose and mouth
Fit snugly against the sides of your face and don’t have gaps
If you can do this with one well-chosen mask, that’s fine. If using two masks at once helps, choose that option.
Gaiters and ski masks
Experts have been saying that gaiters are not effective. However, the new guidance recommends doubling the fabric if you choose to wear a gaiter. This can involve wearing two gaiters, or folding your gaiter so that you have two layers of fabric in place.
The CDC still reminds us that a scarf or a ski mask doesn’t protect against COVID-19. Wear cold weather gear over your mask, not instead of a mask