With what seems a majority of Americans wearing one mask to avoid COVID-19 exposure, public health experts now call for two masks.

Upon discovery of new, highly transmissible coronavirus variants, one cloth mask will no longer cut it, according to a recent story in The Washington Post by Fenit Nirappil.

Protection from COVID-19 Exposure

To achieve the necessary protection, some experts are urging Americans to double up – or upgrade. Options include adding a second cloth mask, combining a surgical mask and a cloth mask, or donning one N95 or KN95 (NIOSH-certified) mask.

The new coronavirus variant first detected in the United Kingdom is estimated to be up to 70 percent more transmissible than the original strain, according to BBC.com. “The existence of more-transmissible viruses emphasizes the importance of us upping our game and doing not more of the same but better of the same,” said Tom Frieden, former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in a recent interview with The Washington Post.

KN95 and N95 masks should still be reserved for healthcare workers when possible. So, what should Americans be wearing day to day? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encourages well-fitting masks with two or more layers of washable, breathable fabric. This would include a level 2 mask and anything higher.

No access to surgical grade masks? Linsey Marr, an engineering professor at Virginia Tech with expertise in airborne transmission of viruses and air quality, suggests creating a three-layer mask by cutting a vacuum bag (a high-efficiency filter) and layering it between two cloth masks.

What’s the best way for each person to protect themselves and those around them while vaccine rollout is underway and more communicable coronavirus variants abound? The need to stay informed of the most updated guidance from public health experts.

What the CDC Is Doing

According to CDC.gov, the organization, in collaboration with other public health agencies, is “monitoring the situation closely. CDC is working to monitor the spread of identified variants, characterize emerging viral variants, and expand its ability to find new SARS-CoV-2 variants.  CDC is collaborating with EPA to confirm that disinfectants on EPA’s List N: Disinfectants for Coronavirus (COVID-19external icon) inactivate these variant viruses. As new information becomes available, CDC will provide updates.”

How to Obtain Masks

Contact your Friendly Benco Rep to order masks today.