The CDC are now saying one mask is good but two are better, urging Americans to wear tight-fitting cloth masks under medical ones so as to increase protection against the spread of the coronavirus.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated their mask-wearing guidelines on Wednesday to advise wearing tighter-fitting face coverings and layering medical masks with snug cloth ones.
“The bottom line is this: Masks work and they work best when they have a good fit and are worn correctly,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said at a White House briefing.
The CDC has released new research that found double-masking offers more protection against the coronavirus. Tying knots on the ear loops of medical masks can also help.https://t.co/zZmcggtgCT
— NPR (@NPR) February 10, 2021
Wednesday’s policy change comes after media reports last month advocating double- and even triple-masking. The Biden administration’s coronavirus czar Dr. Anthony Fauci first seemed to endorse these reports, only to say just days later that there was “no data that indicates that that is going to make a difference.”
The data now cited by the CDC comes from last month’s experiment with simulated coughing, published on Wednesday in the Mortality and Morbidity Weekly Report. According to the researchers, simply knotting the loops of the surgical mask to improve its fit improves protection against aerosolized particles, and wearing two masks works even better.
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Against an unmasked source, the recipient reduced cumulative exposure by 83 percent with a double mask or 64.5 percent with a knotted medical mask, according to the experiment. With the “cougher” masked as well, the reduction went up to 96.4 percent and 95.9 percent, respectively.
The researchers made sure to include some caveats, however. The simulation findings “should neither be generalized to the effectiveness of all medical procedure masks or cloths (sic) masks nor interpreted as being representative of the effectiveness of these masks when worn in real-world settings,” they wrote. The experiment may not apply to children, because their faces are too small – while knotting or tucking masks may not work with “persons with larger faces.”
Double masking “might impede breathing or obstruct peripheral vision for some wearers,” they cautioned.
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Having promised a science-based plan to “shut down the virus,” US President Joe Biden imposed a mask mandate on all federal land and public transportation, but admitted in late January there was “nothing we can do to change the trajectory of the pandemic in the next several months.”
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