The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released a study discovering that two masks are better than one in regards to fighting COVID-19.
“Double Masking”, as the CDC claims, refers to wearing a medical mask under a cloth mask. The study by the CDC found that wearing an unknotted medical mask protects 56% of particles by a cough. A cloth mask compares at 51%, while a combination of the two blocks 85.4%. This makes double masking 20% more effective.
The coronavirus pandemic has now infected thousands of residents on Long Island. Masks are required to enter public places in New York under Governor Andrew Cuomo’s legislation. It is unknown if people will start double masking after the study.
Federal courthouses in Manhattan, Westchester and Dutchess counties have already taken double masking seriously. Chief Judge Colleen McMahon the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York says everyone coming into federal court buildings will wear either two masks, which requires a tight-fitting disposable mask to be worn under a cloth mask. An FDA-approved KN95 or N95 respirator-style mask is allowed as well.
Matt Unruh, Doctorate in Pharmacy and Registered Pharmacist at Stony Brook Southampton Hospital, said the study is not surprising.
“The better you can block the source of contamination, the better you can contain droplets,” said Unruh.
However, what the study did not assess was comfort and breathability, since the study was done on manikins. Lauren Dellibovi, Physician Assistant student at Hofstra University, said she does not believe people will start double masking.
“I think it is a great way to prevent the spread in places where it is hard to keep six feet apart,” said Dellibovi. “I don’t think it would ever be implemented by state governments since it’s already hard to wear one.”
For places like sporting events, malls, learning environments and doctors offices, Unrah thinks it would not be a bad idea to double mask since it is hard to stay six feet apart.
“For events like attending an NFL game, it wouldn’t be a bad idea for the NFL to require double masking just to prevent the spread of COVID during nonessential events” said Unruh.
Both Unruh and Dellibovi agreed that as Long Islanders in the medical field, the rules won’t be different for patients and workers.
“The rules have already been implemented to a degree,” said Unruh. “Most providers in contact with COVID-19 wear an N-95 mask and then a surgical mask with eye protection. These techniques are already more protective than just using a two three-ply medical mask or two three-ply cotton masks.”