SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) – Early on in the pandemic, medical health experts began strongly recommending wearing masks to stave off the spread of COVID-19, and now, they are doubling down, literally.
New research is out pointing to the increasing positive benefits of wearing two masks to better protect oneself from getting the virus.
While it may sound at first excessive to wear two masks rather than one, there is scientific data to prove the point and how it can better protect all of us as we manage our way through this pandemic.
“Actually, I just wrote a paper about this, with a physical scientist with the question of at this point in time, should we be wearing better masks and I think the answer is yes,” Dr. Monica Gandhi said.
Meet Dr. Monica Gandhi, an infectious disease physician with UCSF. She along with Dr. Linsey Marr, an expert in virus transmission at Virginia Tech, recently put forth a medical commentary on the principles of the importance of face masks and more precisely, the data supporting double masking.
“There are three reasons, because when there is more virus around, you’re more likely to be exposed, number one. Second is these variants like you said and number three, anyone who is indoors, and so I recommend this for those indoors is more at risk than outdoors, so I wouldn’t say this for people running outside for example,” Dr. Gandhi said.
That is an important note, Dr. Gandhi says, the double masking is all about what we now know about the virus and how it is transmitted.
With so many masks out there, now the question is what two masks should we wear?
“It is what we just wrote about, surgical masks block the virus electrostatically, it’s almost like electrical pulsion and then the cloth mask blocks it in the fibers and it can’t get through, and putting those two together are as effective as an N95,” Dr. Gandhi said.
Speaking of an N95, the doctor says it is the gold standard because of its unique material.
However, she says, they must be properly fitted and are still in short supply so she recommends the cloth and surgical option, and then there is this — How best to layer the two.
“The way that I’ve been recommending is actually the surgical on the outside and the cloth on the inside, why? The cloth is the one that’s going to get dirty next to your mouth and you’ll want to wash that more frequently and the surgical can then be reused until it really starts gapping on the sides. You could probably use it for about five days,” Dr. Gandhi said.
Dr. Gandhi says washing the cloth every few days is best.
Something else that is evolving, surface contamination. She says early on in the pandemic, there was fear surrounding touching surfaces.
“Surface transmission, about 100 hundred people would have to sneeze on a surface and then you’d have to lick it to get surface transmissions, so that’s how I’m trying to put it really strongly but it’s true,” Dr. Gandhi said.
She adds, thinking that way can help people relax and realize they can – when needed adjust their masks better yet, adjust their double masks while inside keeping up their best defense during this pandemic.