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Two features a virologist says matter most for face masks

(MyNorthwest photo)

Some disease experts have suggested wearing two masks to better protect yourself from the more transmissible variants of COVID-19 making their way around the globe, one of which has now been detected in Washington state.

But virologist Dr. Angela Rasmussen told KIRO Radio’s Gee and Ursula Show it’s the fit of the masks that matters, and the number of layers.

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“You really want to make sure that that mask is fitting snugly to your face and there’s no leaks around the edges [where] any air can get in, because then you might as just well not wear anything,” she said.

Dr. Rasmussen says you can wear two masks to create a better seal, but it’s more important that your masks are more than one layer and fit snugly to your face. She says single-layer masks, gaiters, and bandannas do not provide adequate protection.

“Make sure that rather than wearing a neck gaiter or something that’s single-ply, you’re wearing a mask that does have multiple layers and ideally has a filter inside of it,” Rasmussen said.

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If you can smell perfume, cooking food, or cigarette smoke while wearing a mask, Dr. Rasmussen says it does not mean that your mask is worthless against coronavirus. The virus is bigger than chemicals and gasses, and it cannot get through a good mask that’s fitted properly.

“You can certainly smell volatile compounds, like perfume, through an N95 mask even when it’s properly fitted, but that doesn’t mean that the mask is not protecting you against the particles that will actually contain virus,” Rasmussen said.

Listen to the full interview with Dr. Rasmussen online here.

Listen to the Gee and Ursula Show weekday mornings from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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