As highly contagious coronavirus variants spread, health experts in the Mountain West and beyond are urging people to upgrade and double up their masks.
“Multiple layers of fabric would provide more filtration than just a single layer, so you can achieve this by wearing two masks,” said Brian Labus, an epidemiologist at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. “The other benefit of wearing a couple masks at the same time is that it can provide a better fit to your face, covering any gaps in the first and second mask.”
The CDC hasn't changed its mask recommendations, but a former CDC director, as well as Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious-disease expert, are touting double-masking and higher-quality masks, as the Washington Post reports.
Christine Porter, who teaches public health at the University of Wyoming, recommends upgrading to a KF94 mask made in South Korea.
“The Korean-made ones have been reliably shown to filter 95% of the particles, thus a mask of that level becomes more important with these new variants because of the lower level of the virus exposure,” Porter explained.
But she says upgrading depends on whether you can find one and afford it.
Protocols like handwashing and social distancing continue to be critical in preventing the spread of COVID-19.
This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.