One of the common looks throughout President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris' inauguration were "double-masking," where someone wears an N95 mask underneath a cloth mask. The New York Times gushed about the practice, calling it a "fashion trend" that is a "sensible" and "easy way" to lower your risk of catching the coronavirus.
The premise of the article was simple: a single mask isn't very effective, but double-masking – or even triple-masking – is effective.
"One big advantage of double-masking that I’ve found is that it creates a better fit and closes the gaps around the edge of your mask. I like layering my masks. When I walk the dog or exercise outdoors, I wear a regular mask to comply with area mask rules," the article stated. "When I want more protection for short errands, I wear a better mask. When I’m in a taxi or on a train, I double-mask."
According to the writer, KF94 masks are what average Americans should use for double-masking. The reason: it's almost as effective as an N95 but it doesn't take away from the health care community.
The whole concept of double-masking is rather odd, especially when health care officials, like Dr. Anthony Fauci, have repeatedly flip-flopped on the effectiveness of wearing a single mask. At first, we were told they weren't effective. Then, we were told they are. Then they aren't. Now we're told to layer two or three masks on top of each other.
After a number of Biden administration officials were seen double-masking, blue check marks on Twitter are telling us that layering masks is now the thing to do.
Not all masks are equally protective. Better masks will be important, particularly if more contagious strains of Covid spread widely. That means N95/KN95 masks when indoors around others, rather than fabric masks. Defense Production Act can help increase supply.— Dr. Tom Frieden (@DrTomFrieden) January 22, 2021
SWITCH TO PREMIUM MASKS—I’ve been saying it for months. We need to switch to KN95, KF94, or European FFP2 masks ASAP. The new #b117 #COVID19 is just too contagious. Cloth isn’t enough anymore folks. Germany ???? & Austria ???? mandating on all public transits. https://t.co/MfZhK4Uacg pic.twitter.com/iKQB4yNQrA— Eric Feigl-Ding (@DrEricDing) January 24, 2021
If you are in a high risk area and you are unvaccinated, double masking is the way to go.— Dara Kass, MD (@darakass) January 22, 2021
Always proud to see ?@PeteButtigieg? and ?@Chasten? model best practices. https://t.co/QNH8H2IIhV
I have started double-masking in higher risk settings.— Jayne Miller (@jemillerwbal) January 19, 2021
Experts say it can help and certainly won't hurt https://t.co/HoGR3t3xZz
AFP even had a how-to guide on double masking:
Double masking.#AFPGraphics compares different ways of wearing masks to maximise protection against the coronavirus pic.twitter.com/yB4meh73MR— AFP News Agency (@AFP) January 22, 2021
The reason Americans question the effectiveness of wearing a mask is simple: health care leaders have been all over the place since the start of the pandemic. States that have mask mandates – California, Michigan, New York – have high COVID rates. If masks were effective, wouldn't those states have the lowest number of infections after months of wearing masks? It's a logical question to ask and one health care officials keep brushing aside.
Telling people to layer up on masks is essentially saying that what's being used isn't working. Double-masking is a shot in the dark they hope will work.
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