The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released new research that found wearing a cloth mask over a surgical mask offers more protection against COVID-19. Findings also showed that tying knots on the ear loops of surgical masks can improve fit and create better protection. This information has prompted new mask guidance at a time when many are experiencing heightened concern over fast-spreading variants of the virus.
Wearing a mask correctly—and consistently—is one of the most effective tools we have against preventing the spread of COVID-19. It is important to choose a mask that fits well and also provides the necessary protection against viruses and aerosols.
According to the CDC, these are the two most important things to consider when it comes to masks:
1) Make sure your mask fits snugly against your face. Gaps can let air with respiratory droplets leak in and out around the edges of the mask; and
2) Pick a mask with layers to keep your respiratory droplets in and others’ out. A mask with layers will stop more respiratory droplets getting inside your mask or escaping from your mask if you are sick.
Here is a list of “Do’s” and “Don’ts”:
Choose a mask with a Nose Wire:
- A nose wire is a metal strip along the top of the mask. Nose wires prevent air from leaking out of the top of the mask.
Use a Mask Fitter or Brace:
- Use a mask fitter or brace over a disposable mask or a cloth mask to prevent air from leaking around the edges of the mask.
Check that it Fits Snugly over your nose, mouth, and chin:
- Check for gaps by cupping your hands around the outside edges of the mask.
- Make sure no air is flowing from the area near your eyes or from the sides of the mask.
- If the mask has a good fit, you will feel warm air come through the front of the mask and may be able to see the mask material move in and out with each breath.
Add Layers of material. Here are three different ways to achieve this:
- Use a cloth mask that has multiple layers of fabric.
- Wear one disposable mask underneath a cloth mask.
- Use a two-layer mask that has a pocket for a filter.
Knot and Tuck ear loops of a 3-ply mask:
- Knot the ear loops of a 3-ply face mask where they join the edge of the mask
- Fold and tuck the unneeded material under the edges
- For video instructions, see: https://youtu.be/UANi8Cc71A0external icon.
- Don’t like this style? You can also try using a mask extender or hair clip to hold the ear loops tightly at the back of your head.
Combine two disposable masks: Disposable masks are not designed to fit tightly and wearing more than one will not improve fit.
Combine a KN95 mask with any other mask: Only use one KN95 mask at a time.
For more ways to improve the fit and filtration of your mask, visit: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/mask-fit-and-filtration.html.