Double masking? Best form of double-masking is when you and other person are both wearing masks
You might have noticed some reports, recommending double masking -- wearing two masks one on top of the other. Is this really necessary, you wonder?
“The best form of double masking is when you and the person you’re interacting with are both wearing a mask.” (Emily Sickbert-Bennett, an epidemiologist and head of infection prevention at the University of North Carolina Medical Center, ScienceNews.org, Feb 12, 2021)
The truth is, if you can bear double-masking, why not? More layers and more filtration can theoretically be better, but you need to wear the mask really tightly sealed so that no air escapes from the top or the sides, otherwise, it defeats the purpose. Other than the N95, most masks are not designed to be able to be worn tightly sealed. Medical workers need to test fit N95 masks to ensure a tight seal.
The downside is that the tighter the mask, the thicker the mask, the harder it is to breathe. (The N95 properly worn is very hard to breathe in) And people then start taking it off, moving it, pulling it below their noses etc. -- you know, all these things you're not supposed to do when wearing a mask. Double-masking can also create more leaks if not done properly.
"I worry more about people wearing masks down on their chins, not covering their mouths and noses, than I do about what the mask is made of," said Dr. Richard Besser, president of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and a former acting director of the CDC. (NBC Jan 28 article see other blog)
Indeed, "the best quality mask is frankly the one that you wear the right way for the longest amount of time when you're interacting with other people," said Cameron Wolfe, an infectious diseases expert and an associate professor of medicine at the Duke University School of Medicine. (NBC Jan 28 article see other blog)
"You could have a very good N95 mask, but let's say that somebody isn't wearing it properly or is only wearing it 50 percent of the time," "I would rather that someone wear a surgical mask or cloth mask 100 percent of the time, correctly and consistently." Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency physician and former health commissioner for Baltimore. (NBC Jan 28 article see other blog)
If the mask is a single layer of fabric, you could wear another one on top to achieve the 2 layers. In other words, you could double-up a cloth mask that only has one layer to create a covering that meets the two-layer recommendation. (SmitMask has 2 layers)
So there you have it. The best mask is still a good-fitting 2-or-more-layered mask that is comfortable that you can wear for a long time. If you can bear double-masking, no harm doing it. But if you double-mask, and end up taking if off because you can't breathe, moving it, pulling it down below your nose or chin, then you're better off sticking with just one good comfortable, good-fitting mask that you are willing to wear and keep on. It is more important to wear one single good-fitting mask with good blocking properties than to double-mask with loose masks.
The most important way to protect yourself is to make sure that everyone in your vicinity is wearing a face-covering with a minimum of 2 layers of fabric or a surgical mask that completely covers the nose and mouth and keep it on. "The most important thing is that everybody should be wearing a mask," says Dr Fauci (CNN Feb 10, 2021). “The best form of double masking is when you and the person you’re interacting with are both wearing a mask.” (Emily Sickbert-Bennett, an epidemiologist and head of infection prevention at the University of North Carolina Medical Center, ScienceNews.org, Feb 12, 2021)
After that, if you want to double or even triple your mask, that's up to you!