How to double up on masks

Posted at 6:18 PM, Feb 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-11 18:18:39-05

LEE COUNTY, Fla. — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says doubling up on your mask could protect you and the people around you even more from COVID-19. They say how well it fits is just as important.

Robert Hawkes, the Director of the Physician Assistant Program at Florida Gulf Coast University says the first step of mask protection is knowing what kind of mask you have on your hands.

“Some of the earlier surgical masks - the paper-style masks were also only one layer,” he said.

Hawkes says those one-layer surgical masks still let a lot of particles in.

“If you can pull it apart kind of like how I’m pulling this apart, then it’s actually a double-layered mask,” he said.

Hawkes says the double-layered mask works just as well as wearing two masks.

The CDC released data this week showing wearing a cloth mask over a surgical mask even when those around you aren’t wearing anything reduces the spread of your droplets by 82 percent. That protection jumps to 92 percent when everybody does it.

Hawkes says the next step is looking at the fit of the mask.

“Having like a wire clip around your nose, so that you can get a good seal, and also the same thing around people’s cheeks, and kind of around their chin,” he said.

If you don’t have a double-layered mask, the CDC says you can improvise with your surgical or cloth mask by still tightening it with what they call the knotting and tucking procedure. But, they says that only drops the risk of spreading droplets by 63 percent. Or you can do what Hawkes does.

“Sometimes people on these will actually double them over, and kind of make like a loop, and then put those around their ears to make them a little extra tight,” he said.

Hawkes says with a tighter mask comes a little more breathing restrictions. So, avoid wearing the masks for extended periods of time, unless you absolutely must.