CDC Officially Updates Mask Recommendations to Include Layering (But Not For All Masks)
The CDC has officially updated its mask usage recommendations to include layering, something that public health experts such as Dr. Anthony Fauci, as well as government officials, have previously suggested.
The logic is that layering, particularly using a single-use mask underneath a reusable mask, provides more protection by improving fit, helping to cover any gaps where particles could escape or enter.
The CDC website recommends either layering a disposable mask under a cloth mask or using a cloth mask with a multi-layer construction. It also notes that layering two disposable masks is not recommended.
“Disposable masks are not designed to fit tightly, and wearing more than one will not improve fit,” the CDC says.
On the subject of fit, a former Apple engineer actually created a product that would allow people to wear a single disposable mask and ensure that it fits snugly. Her company, Fix the Mask, designs a brace that tightens the mask around the user’s face, closing any gaps.
“Fitters have been scientifically demonstrated to improve filtration performance by as much as 90% or more, which, again, is getting into that range of filtration efficiency afforded by N95 respirators,” Dr. John Brooks, chief medical officer for the CDC’s COVID-19 response, said, according to Business Insider.
With the way masks have taken over the promotional products industry, fitters could be a must-have accessory, too.
There are other ways to ensure disposable masks work as intended that don’t necessitate buying a new product. The CDC's recommendations include knotting the ear loops for a better fit. Business Insider writes:
Start by folding the mask in half, edge to edge. Then tie both ear loops so the knots are as close to the mask as possible. Finally, unfold the mask and tuck any extra fabric beneath the knots.
“You can tell that the mask is tighter-fitting on your face because the mask moves in and out as you breathe,” Emily Sickbert-Bennett, director of infection prevention at UNC Hospitals, said to Business Insider.
With mask standards in development, it could soon be easier for consumers to see exactly how effective the masks they buy or receive will be. Until then, the CDC's updated guidance also recommends using masks with nose wire built in, and not wearing additional layers when using a KN95 mask.