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Mercer Island MD explains why CDC now recommends multi-layered masks

Mask-wearing continues to be a key recommendation of local health officials. (Seattle-King County Public Health, Facebook)

Newly released data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that wearing at least two layers of masks in public could be the safest way to protect yourself against the spread of COVID-19. Mercer Island MD Dr. Gordon Cohen spoke to KIRO Radio’s Dave Ross to weigh in on what exactly that data says.

Seattle-King County Public Health stresses importance of multi-layered masks

As Dr. Cohen describes, the CDC’s new data is based on recent testing done on lab dummies.

“They exposed these two dummy heads to potentially infectious aerosols,” he said. “They had one mask versus two masks, and what they found was, if you use one mask, it would reduce the amount of aerosol by 40%. But if you wore two masks, it reduced it by 95%.”

In hospital setting, Cohen has observed a similar strategy employed by doctors and nurses, who will often put a second surgical mask on over their N95, or simply wear two disposable masks together.

Health officials have cited a pair of factors as important to consider when using multiple layers to mask up: fit and filtration. That could come in the form of wearing a plastic brace under your mask to help it better fit your face.

“It also keeps the mask away from your mouth and away from your nose,” Dr. Cohen noted. “That should make it more comfortable so you’re not fiddling with it, which is one of the ways that you could create contamination as you touch the mask.”

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That could also have the added benefit of reducing moisture and reducing a perceived sense of suffocation, especially while exercising.

“People for sure have a sense of suffocation when they’ve got a mask being sucked into their nose and mouth as they’re breathing harder, so the brace will help to keep it away from the face,” Cohen said.

This matches with guidance from experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has been a frequent proponent of double-masking as a “common sense” measure to increase protection against more infectious variant strains of COVID-19.

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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