Double Mask: How To Do It Correctly To Avoid COVID-19 Infection
The saying goes that when someone doesn't want soup, they receive a double portion! The irony of getting more of what you don’t want. We see it today with people who own a thousand excuses for not using a mask to stop the spread of COVID-19, while the current suggestions from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) are very clear: if we improve the filter and fit of our masks, we can reduce the risk of infection by up to 95%. This is excellent news, considering the increased contagiousness of the new strains of the coronavirus. (1)
The problem is that not all masks offer the same protection, which is why experts suggest wearing two masks with specific characteristics.
Should both masks be surgical or N95?
Don't worry or get upset if you already bought a box of masks with embellishments and decorations. You don't necessarily have to throw them away!
There is no specific rule requiring us to use a particular type of mask. The suggestion to wear two is to help filter the air we breathe and expel in the best possible way, making access to the respiratory track more difficult for the virus, since it can already sneak through the fabric material of some masks. Most notably in masks containing a single layer of fabric.
A very simple way to check the filtration level of your mask is to put it directly in front of a strong light. If you see too much light through the mask, it does not offer very much protection. You can also test the mask by blowing through it with your hand on the other side. If you feel air in your hand, it means the mask does not provide enough protection.
So far, the N95 is still the head honcho of masks, offering 95% protection. Of course, they must be original and not one of the fraudulent versions that are sold online and in some stores. If you wear an authentic N95, you wouldn't need to double up with another mask over it.
Experts also suggest using a surgical mask as a base. Over this, you would layer a fabric mask with more than one layer, and preferably with a metal rod in the nose area to adjust to the face. In addition, the mask should have elastic hooks with adjusters but if not, you can tie a knot behind the ears to help the mask adhere to your face and prevent air from entering or exiting the sides. When we wear all these well sealed layers, we achieve a higher level of protection.
Mouth and nose well protected
Wearing the mask has one purpose: protection. To accomplish that, both the mouth and nose must be well covered. Please don't join in on the trend of wearing it under the nose, on the chin, hanging from an ear or even as a hair clip! Even worse if after doing this, you put it back over your nose – it’s completely unhygienic.
Masks should also not be placed on the face or adjusted by holding them anywhere other than by the elastic hooks. When you place the mask on, you can adjust once at the front, but you shouldn’t constantly touch it. What would be the point, then? If there are particles or viruses stuck to the outside of the mask, they can get on your hands!
Once you are done using, you should immediately throw away the surgical mask and wash the cloth mask with soap and warm water.
When and where we should double mask
In public spaces or when in contact with other people who do not live with us.
In stores, supermarkets, and pharmacies, at medical appointments, as a guest at a house, and in any enclosed place.
In our home whenever any member of the family is sick or has made contact with others who may be sick. If we have been with people outside the family unprotected, even for short periods of time, it is recommended to double mask at home.
Although there are still certain businesses and places in different states that struggle not to use masks at all, they are mandatory in federal buildings, on public transportation and for domestic and international air travel. A handkerchief or a tied-up T-shirt won’t do. Neither will masks with breathing valves, as they may expel droplets that could be contaminated.
Exceptions for this measure remain the same:
Children under 2 years of age.
People with disabilities or who are unable to use masks due to a health problem.
If wearing a mask poses a health risk for a person at work. (2)
The reasons behind this suggestion
Double masks are neither whim nor a desire to annoy those with doubts about the coronavirus pandemic. Behind every suggestion or new piece of information, there are dozens of experts studying the behavior of the virus and all its variants. In fact, countries such as Germany prohibit the use of cloth masks in public places, and most of Europe does not allow the sale of masks labeled as hygienic that do not have a filtration level of at least 90%. Spain has also recently joined this measure to contain the increase of new strains that spread more easily. (3)
Why use double masks just as mass vaccination is starting?
We are all exhausted of anti-covid measures. Until it is under control, however, we must be patient and continue to do our part.
It is important to remember that the use of double masks does not mean that social distancing, avoiding crowds and closed spaces, or hand washing are no longer required. Quite the opposite! Double masks are an extra measure of protection, considering there is still a long way to go to reach mass vaccination and the group immunity we need to control this pandemic.
Double masks are not a mandatory measure, but rather a suggestion from the CDC. In the end, they are responsible for integrating all the research information and coordinating safety measures to control the pandemic in the United States.
Everyone is free to make their own decisions, but whenever rebellion crosses your mind, remember that doctors, nurses, and all frontline staff have been at this for a year with no respite. Exhausted beyond the extreme, both physically and emotionally, from taking care of hundreds of infected people day in and day out. Some of them also had that same attitude of discomfort and disbelief before they became infected. There is a basic principle that says our freedom ends where the freedom of others begins.
Let's be relentless and healthier, together!
Your team at Santo Remedio
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