One mask may not be enough

Alondra Martinez, Assistant News Section Editor

The covid-19 vaccine is a ray of hope in these dark times and potentially the strongest protection against the virus. Yet, most of us students will have to wait a long time before we get our dose. Meanwhile, the number of covid cases continues to increase at an alarming rate. What can you do to continue to keep yourself and others safe, even if you can’t get the vaccine? Double up on masks! 

New research conducted by the Central Disease Control shows that wearing a fabric mask paired with a disposable mask can significantly reduce the spread of aerosol particles. In the study, CDC researchers simulated breathing and coughing between pairs of dummies while trying different combinations of multi-layered cloth and common surgical masks in a laboratory. 

The experiment showed that typical disposable masks only block 42% of cough droplets while the combination of a disposable and cloth mask blocks 92.5%.  This may be due to the fact that disposable masks often have wide gaps that leave parts of the face uncovered and vulnerable to the disease. When both dummies were wearing fitted double masks, the blockage increased to 96.4%. 

As a result,  the CDC recommends wearing a fabric mask along with a disposable one underneath.  Doubling up creates an additional barrier between you and any potential covid particles. Other preventive methods include wearing a nylon cover over your face mask or a mask brace. Face shields are another strong defense against the virus. Knotting, folding, and tucking the ear loops of a disposable mask is also recommended to create a better fit. The most important part of any of these techniques is to make sure there are no gaps around the face.  

In a recent survey, most iUP students said they would consider wearing two masks. They agree that masks are helpful but not the only measure that should be taken to prevent the virus. Quarantining and avoiding large gatherings are good ways to help stop the spread. In cases where going out can’t be avoided, two masks are the way to go. 

Even with the vaccine, it’s important to continue to take all the necessary measures to stop the spread of the virus. Wearing two masks may not sound ideal but keeping everyone safe is worth the temporary discomfort. We may be out of the woods soon but until then, double up!



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Brinson, J., Rumore, K., & Berlin, J. (2021, February 15). How to Properly wear two MASKS – and OTHER Mask-fitting Tips following recent CDC advice. Retrieved February 16, 2021, from

Tin, A. (2021, February 11). CDC recommends double masks to help protect against COVID-19. Retrieved February 16, 2021, from