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Some people think we should wear two COVID face masks instead of one

January 13th, 2021 at 7:22 PM
Coronavirus update
  • Because each day’s coronavirus update for the US is still so dire, some people have started following an arguably extreme protective measure to keep themselves safe from COVID-19.
  • Face masks are a key part of controlling the spread of the coronavirus.
  • However, some people have gone to the extreme of wearing two face masks, instead of one, to increase their level of protection.

The latest depressing coronavirus update for the US — which is seeing a seven-day average of 247,600 new daily COVID cases and at least 3,340 daily coronavirus-related deaths, per a CNBC analysis of Johns Hopkins University data — has some people embracing an aggressive new protective measure: Wearing two coronavirus face masks, instead of just one.

The double-wrappers, who include everyone from President-elect Joe Biden to New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, are reasoning that this move simply doubles their protection against the coronavirus, for which face masks have been an important part of controlling somewhat. We say “somewhat,” because no one would be so foolish as to say our pandemic response has reflected a sense of getting things under control. But face masks are one of the only tools to exert what little control we do have.

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Nevertheless, it’s somewhat dismaying that even at this late stage of the pandemic, which is now almost a year old in the US, wearing face masks is still as politicized and rejected as much as it is. At least three Democratic congressmen, for example, have now tested positive for COVID-19 as a result of what they say was the necessity of being forced to take cover last week during the DC riots with mask-less Republican colleagues.

In the video below, Republican House members can be seen refusing to accept a face mask from a Democratic colleague while they shelter from last week’s mob of DC rioters:

Accordingly, members of the House of Representatives who refuse to wear a face mask on the floor of the House will now face a $500 fine after the first offense. After the second offense, the fine goes up to $2,500.

Face masks are going to be the expected norm in public in the US for the near future — but not forever. According to the CDC, “Experimental and epidemiological data support community masking to reduce the spread of SARS-CoV-2. The prevention benefit of masking is derived from the combination of source control and personal protection for the mask wearer. The relationship between source control and personal protection is likely complementary and possibly synergistic, so that individual benefit increases with increasing community mask use.”

When it comes to which mask — or masks, if you’re the double-wrapping type — N95s continue to be regarded as the gold standard. But combining two specialized masks, according to The New York Times, can offer a similar degree of protection. Cloth masks that hug the face are better, since the familiar blue-and-white surgical masks usually don’t fit as snugly across the face.

Andy is a reporter in Memphis who also contributes to outlets like Fast Company and The Guardian. When he’s not writing about technology, he can be found hunched protectively over his burgeoning collection of vinyl, as well as nursing his Whovianism and bingeing on a variety of TV shows you probably don’t like.




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