By Emily Cousins | Staff Writer
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended double masking to enhance mask performance. Baylor is not considering requiring double masking as this time.
To test the effectiveness of double masking, the CDC conducted experiments to understand which masks were most effective to block simulated cough aerosols.
“The effectiveness of the following mask configurations to block these aerosols was assessed: a three-ply medical procedure mask alone, a three-ply cloth cotton mask alone, and the three-ply cloth mask covering the three-ply medical procedure mask (double masking),” the CDC said in the report.
The CDC found that double masking blocked around 85% of the cough particles, whereas both single masks blocked around 50% of the aerosols.
Medical Director at Baylor Dr. Sharon Stern said double masking is not being considered as a requirement on campus, but that it’s worth doing as a personal choice to remain safer when around groups of people.
“The second mask serves to help prevent the spread of infectious particles by adding another layer of protection,” Stern said. “Most cloth masks are made with two layers of fabric, each woven in a different direction. That helps make the ‘holes’ smaller and less numerous but the holes are still there. Having a surgical mask next to your face with a cloth mask over it adds another level of protection and is helpful in not spreading or contracting infectious illnesses.”
Jason Cook, vice president for marketing and communications, said even though double masking is not being considered as an added protocol, Baylor is aware that “masking is a critical element in stopping the spread of the virus.”
“We need everyone on campus to continue to wear a face mask that covers your nose and mouth, especially when you are indoors around others, and follow other health and safety precautions like distancing and washing your hands so we can stop the spread of COVID-19 and keep everyone healthy,” Cook said.
According to the CDC, variants of COVID-19 are spreading, some with more rapid transmission.
“Because double masking is helpful in preventing the spread of infectious viral particles, it would be even more important if we had an infection that is more contagious, such as the variants of SARS-CoV-2,” Stern said. “Because this infection is spread in an airborne method from the respiratory tract, it is important to keep our nose and mouth covered to prevent spread.”