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Travel All Your Questions About Double Masking, Answered

01:44  05 march  2021
01:44  05 march  2021 Source:   cntraveler.com

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a person standing in front of a church: A woman wearing a face mask walks by the Jeronimos Monastery on the first day of the second national lockdown to combat the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic in Lisbon, Portugal on January 15, 2021. Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa announced last Wednesday a new confinement between January 15 and 30 with the same restrictive measures of March and April 2020, with the only relevant new exception that is schools will remain in full operation. (Photo by Pedro Fiúza/NurPhoto via Getty Images) © NurPhoto A woman wearing a face mask walks by the Jeronimos Monastery on the first day of the second national lockdown to combat the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic in Lisbon, Portugal on January 15, 2021. Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa announced last Wednesday a new confinement between January 15 and 30 with the same restrictive measures of March and April 2020, with the only relevant new exception that is schools will remain in full operation. (Photo by Pedro Fiúza/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

With President Joe Biden announcing Tuesday that the U.S. will have enough vaccine doses “for every adult in America by the end of May,” the end of the pandemic feels nearer than ever. But just because the U.S. has taken a giant step toward herd immunity doesn’t mean it’s time to relax. “We cannot let our guard down now or assure that victory is inevitable,” the president added. “We can’t assume that.”

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  Doctors Explain if Layering 2 Face Masks Offers More Protection Against COVID-19 Double masking adds an extra layer of filter. But is it necessary?Layered face masks have been spotted on everyone from President Elect Joe Biden to New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick to essential workers on public transportation and at the grocery store.

The head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Dr. Rochelle Walensky also reminded Americans on Monday that the decline in cases has been stalling: “At this level of cases with variants spreading, we stand to completely lose the hard-earned ground we have gained…. Now is not the time to relax the critical safeguards that we know could stop the spread of COVID-19 in our communities.”

That’s part of the reason that the CDC updated their recommendations last month, encouraging the practice of double masking for COVID-19 protection. A year into the pandemic, the whiplash of changing protocols can feel frustrating—but it’s all with good reason. “We continue to learn new things about transmission and how masks work,” says Virginia Tech aerosols expert Linsey Marr. As those new learnings come to light, it's on us to adapt our masking accordingly.

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If you're wondering what exactly double masking means, how to do it properly, and why, read on. We tapped a handful medical experts for the intel you need to mask up safely—it turns out, there's more to it then just throwing on two masks.

What exactly does “double masking” mean?

The term double masking may be a source of confusion, says the CDC's COVID-19 Emergency Response team’s chief medical officer Dr. John Brooks. It’s not simply putting any two masks on top of each other, but it’s more about the masks “fit to improve performance.” And sometimes, the best fit can be achieved by layering two masks.

A recent CDC study found that layering a surgical mask (which tends to be loose with side gaps but has strong filtering material polypropylene) under a cloth mask (which “tends to better conform to the contours of the face”) was a “strategic combination” for increasing protection, since it forms a seal around the edges and forces the air through the filtering layer.

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“How well a mask works depends on two things: filtration and fit,” says Marr. “Good filtration removes as many particles as possible, and a good fit means that there are no leaks around the sides, where air—and viruses—can leak through. Even a small gap can degrade the performance of your mask by 50 percent.”

What kinds of masks can be used to double up?

For the medical mask underneath, Marr notes that certain materials are better at filtering out the particles, like non-woven polypropylene, which is used to make surgical masks and HEPA filters. “If you're using any type of disposable mask that started out as a rectangle, then you should add a tight-fitting cloth mask over it, even if it has three layers [since it] will not protect you if air leaks through the mask around the sides.” The purpose of the top layer is to hold down the edges of the bottom layer.

For fabric mask on top, she says tightly woven cotton works best, like the ones from Baggu (from $20, made of organic quilters’ cotton with both a tight weave and thick thread) or the triple-layered Under Armour Sportsmask (from two for $40).

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  What You Need To Know About Double Masking Are two masks better than one? Two experts weigh in.In Canada, mask recommendations have remained the same since November, when the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) reecommended the use of three-layer masks. PHAC recently said they don’t currently have plans to release new mask guidelines. But with two masks likely offering more protection than one, is there a case to be made for double masking? We asked two experts.

Are there alternatives?

In the same report where double masking was recommended, the knotting-and-tucking method—where the ear loops of a single medical mask are knotted for a tighter fit, with excess fabric tucked into the sides of the mask—was shown to be just as effective. However, there's a chance it can make the mask too small to completely cover the nose and mouth for those with larger faces, Brooks warns.

Watch Now: Condé Nast Traveler Video.

Another effective option is to use mask fitterssolid or elastic braces that go over a mask to hold it in place—though Brooks says it can take some practice to get used to. The CDC study used one created at the University of Wisconsin-Madison called a Badger Shield, which can be made at home or bought online.

When should you double mask?

Double masking for COVID protection is “mainly needed in high-risk situations,” Marr says. She cites indoor environments with other people, like a grocery store or on public transportation. “It's less important outdoors, unless you're in a densely crowded area or having a conversation at close distance with someone.”

Masks are required by law in buildings and on land controlled by the federal government, which includes national parks. The mandate also includes interstate travel by planes, busses, and trains. These federal rules supersede those of states that have recently announced eliminating mask mandates.

What Fully Vaccinated Travelers Need to Know Before Planning a Trip

  What Fully Vaccinated Travelers Need to Know Before Planning a Trip What to consider, from who you're traveling with to where you go.And while there is good reason to celebrate inoculation, health officials have warned that a vaccination is not a free pass to travel as we used to. This is largely dictated by the undetermined degree to which vaccinated people can transmit coronavirus; until everyone is inoculated against COVID-19 or it is proven that vaccination prevents transmission, vaccinated people will need to continue masking and social distancing to protect those who are unvaccinated.

How can you make sure you are double masking correctly?

To see if your double masking technique is actually working, feel the boundaries, especially at the nose bridge and around the chins and cheeks. “No sensation of warm air is an indication of a well-fitted mask,” says Dr. Kagaya Amoako of the University of New Haven's biomedical engineering department. Brooks adds that if eyeglass wearers get foggy lenses with their masks on, that also is a sign of leakage.

While double masking seems like it’s about piling layers together, more isn’t always better. The CDC says that masks with four or more layers “may make it too hard to breathe.”

Are any single masks as effective as doubling up?

Certain “high-quality masks with a snug fit [that] have a high removal efficiency” can be just as effective on their own, Yale University epidemiology professor Dr. Krystal Pollitt says. “This may be a N95 or a three-layer cloth mask made from high-quality fabrics [that] offer a tight fit and high-filtration.”

In fact, certain types of masks shouldn’t be used for doubling up—namely N95, KN95, and other respirators that have been designed to be worn alone, says Brooks. He warns that using another mask above or under those “may decrease performance” since layering could actually make the fit worse.

While the CDC says proper N95 masks should be reserved for health care workers, KN95 masks are an alternative for those looking for better one-mask protection (be aware of the counterfeit versions, though). The nonprofit organization Project N95 sells approved PPE to registered users who must disclose what setting the products will be used in. Available masks include the Powecom KN95 ($16 for 10) and Learning Resources three-ply medical procedure masks for kids ($265 for 1,000).

We’re reporting on how COVID-19 impacts travel on a daily basis. Find our latest coronavirus coverage here, or visit our complete guide to COVID-19 and travel.

Don't Toss Your Masks Yet - Here's When You'll Still Need Them Under the New CDC Guidelines .
The CDC lifted another COVID-19 restriction today, announcing that fully vaccinated people can stop masking and social-distancing in most indoor and outdoor social settings of any size. The news comes as Americans continue to receive the highly effective COVID-19 vaccines, which may reduce transmission of the disease, according to growing data. It's the latest instance of the CDC loosening COVID restrictions that have noticeable effects on our lives; just a few weeks ago, the agency said you didn't need to mask outdoors while walking, running, and biking, or dining in a small group.

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