“Do you have a mask?” Whether you’re headed to school, work or the grocery, this question is one that has been added to many of our before-you-leave-home checklists.
Now, the question may be, “Do you have two masks?”
A recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that double masking can be more than 96% effective at slowing the spread of COVID-19. On a more personal level, another study suggests that wearing a cloth mask over a medical procedure mask, could reduce a wearer’s exposure to SARS CoV-2 by greater than 90%. Studies also suggest that how you wear a mask impacts your level of protection. As a result, the CDC has updated its recommendations on how masks should fit.
Two key ways you can increase the effectiveness of your mask are:
Making sure your mask fits snugly against your face.
Picking a mask with layers to keep your respiratory droplets in and others’ out.
What does this mean for Nationwide Children’s Hospital patients and families?
It means we will continue providing a medical mask to every patient and visitor 2 years and older. The mask must be worn throughout your visit. If you feel more comfortable wearing two masks based on these latest findings, you may wear a cloth mask over your hospital-provided medical mask. We will continue working with the CDC and departments of health and update our guidance accordingly.
This research comes at a time when many across the nation are receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. Thinking they are protected, they may begin relaxing their safety measures, such as no longer wearing a mask or staying physically distanced. However, it is forecasted to take close to a year at our current rate of vaccination to reach herd immunity. Herd immunity means most of our population will be protected from the virus, whether from being vaccinated or previously having the infection.
It’s important to remember that even if you don’t have symptoms, and even if you’ve been vaccinated, you may still spread COVID-19. And there is still a lot we don’t know about the vaccine, like how long immunity lasts.
So, whether you choose to wear one – or two – masks, keep it up! Wearing a mask(s), maintaining physical distancing, practicing good hand hygiene, and being vaccinated are the only proven ways to protect ourselves and our loved ones.
William J. Barson, MD, is chief of the Section of Infectious Diseases and director of the Infectious Diseases Fellowship Program at Nationwide Children's Hospital. He is professor emeritus of pediatrics at The Ohio State University College of Medicine.
Browse by Author
About this Blog
Pediatric News You Can Use From America’s Largest Pediatric Hospital and Research Center
700 Children’s® features the most current pediatric health care information and research from our pediatric experts – physicians and specialists who have seen it all. Many of them are parents and bring a special understanding to what our patients and families experience. If you have a child – or care for a child – 700 Children’s was created especially for you.