Is double masking "THE" solution?

posted 2 weeks ago in The Lounge
Post # 2
380 posts
Helper bee

Double masking, in theory, is supposed to provide you more layers of protection.  If particles get through one mask, they will hopefully be stopped by the second mask.  In many cases, that is indeed true and double masking works.  But it’s not foolproof.

There are two reasons double masking may still not fully protect you: one, if the two masks, combined, simply still don’t provide enough layers.  A cloth mask has one layer, a surgical mask has two.  Three combined layers is decent, but one KN95 mask (which I wear) has 4-5.  Since most people don’t wear KN95 masks, double masking is better than single masking.  The other problem, also less common with KN95 masks, is that the mask fit itself may allow for an entry point where there is an opening.  Double masking may still leave an opening.

What country are you in?  I’m in the US, near NYC, and while there have been bad times and horrible times with COVID here, it has never been good.  Just like you, I blame my fellow citizens and the federal government under Donald Trump (NY state government and the Biden administration have been much better, and there is good compliance in mask wearing here in contrast to some other states).  I know that I can only protect myself (hence the KN95 mask) until the case counts go way down.  And I can only hope that enough people decide to be vaccinated that the pandemic ends at all.

I’ve never double masked, but I can say that it isn’t as easy to breathe with the KN95 on.  I do take comfort in knowing that the difficulty breathing means it is protecting me.

In many areas of the world, society is opening too quickly, and that’s the main cause of COVID getting out of control again, even with closed borders.  Canada is bordering on catastrophe, Italy and France are back under lockdown, and Brazil is going to see so much death that it’s going to make NYC’s peak just about a year to the day look like a breeze.

Post # 3
9237 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper

I doubled masked during the worst of our covid spread (I’m in Australia so know it is very different from other countries). I used a three layer cotton mask on top of a surgical mask. KN95 masks were pretty much unavailable here. I was only using this to go to medical appointments and for a lot of the hospital appointments I was required to put a new clean mask on at the door. Other than that I was only leaving the house to exercise in the open away from others.

I found the cloth mask over the surgical mask gave a better seal than either on their own. I also found it easier to breathe in the double and that my glasses fogged way less (which means it had a better seal). 

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Post # 4
1364 posts
Bumble bee

I don’t think double masking is the answer.  The answer is for everyone to start behaving sensibly.  Over here, we have to wear face coverings in enclosed spaces or where you can’t keep 2 metres apart from other people (so crowded streets etc)  But I walked my dog past a local park yesterday, and there were upwards of 20 teens in a big huddle, playing music and sharing drinks, all squashed up together on a couple of benches…they’re breaking about 4 covid rules BIG time.  And I’ve seen people go up to others in the street and hug them.  And during our total lockdown, one of my neighbours had a dinner party for a dozen people.  

Having a small percentage of the population double masking isn’t going to help if a large percentage is ignoring all the rules.  

Post # 5
2945 posts
Sugar bee

Could you get away with a kn95 + face shield? I got some kn95s on Amazon that are actually pretty comfy and I pair it with a face shield when I need to be in a potentially high exposure situation. Much more breathable than double masking imo. Not sure if this is more or less protective than double masking, but I’ve noticed it’s what a lot of healthcare professionals are doing when I go to dr appts so I figure there must be something to it!

Post # 6
3588 posts
Sugar bee

I double mask with a surgical covered by my three layer cotton mask. My cotton one is made out of thin material like a bed sheet. I’m getting more coverage and a better fit – my glasses aren’t fogging up. It’s entirely comfortable unless it’s hot out. Normally I don’t wear it outside but recently I was at a garden place looking at plants and they required masks. After about 20 minutes I did take it halfway off for a minute because it was hot!

I’m 10 days away from my second dose of the vaccine, so 2 weeks after that I’ll be considered protected. I’ll still double mask when I’m at the store or other public situations because of the variants of the virus that are out there, and also because not having my glasses fog up is nice!

I don’t know about shields, it seems to me they work if you are in close proximity of an unmasked person who is talking, coughing, eating etc to stop the bigger droplets but the smaller ones that float around on air currents can still get behind the shield. That is my completely non-medical opinion and probably has little basis in facts. I have seen people wearing a shield only a few times, and I think that is extremely risky. 

What I am really really really really tired of is people not wearing their masks correctly. Cover your damn nose or you might as well not have a mask on at all! Yesterday the cashier at the gas station had his on his chin. It was all I could do not to say I’m so glad you’re protecting your chin from this deadly virus. 🙄


Post # 7
2113 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: August 2019

If you think it’s hard to breathe in a double mask, I’ve got some really bad news for you about how hard it is to breathe with covid…I had a very mild case (which I got in a single mask), and it sucked. My pulse ox never dropped too low, but I had to sleep on my stomach, I felt constantly short of breath, and all these months later I STILL can’t run very easily. Prior to that, I had double masked frequently, but like you, I thought it was uncomfortable so I went back to a single one. I wish I’d just dealt with the discomfort. 

Covid restrictions suck, there’s no way around it. We’re still doing this because both government and citizens have failed. But these inconveniences are literally the reason why countless people are alive right now, and that is priceless. 

Post # 8
9944 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: August 2012

I’d do a KN95 with a cloth or surgical mask over it if possible. At least it’s not clinging to your face then.

Our numbers have been very good here and I think that’s mostly credited to the vaccine. My location was a huge hot spot a while back.

Post # 9
2441 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: City, State

Even if it could be, it won’t be. Masks work best when everyone wears them, because wearing a mask is more to protect other people. It’s hard enough to get people properly wearing one mask.

Post # 10
810 posts
Busy bee

No, double masking is not the solution when people are visiting each others’ houses in groups and removing their masks, or still refusing to wear a mask at all. Add in arbitrary guidelines like eating in a resturaunt with five other whomevers as long as you’re six feet away from other whomevers. But it’s easier to add new mandates than actually do any enforcement. 

Two surgical masks doesn’t work because neither of them will fit well. Also the CDC says not to wear another mask over a KN95 for some reason. So if you are required to wear two masks, a surgical mask under a cloth mask makes the most sense. A cloth mask with adjustable nose piece and adjustable ear loops will help hold both masks snugly like they’re supposed to fit. 

Post # 11
70 posts
Worker bee

I got a head cold in early December, probably while waiting inside of a smoothie shop for 10 min. It was unpleasant (nose runny like an open faucet for 5 days), and scared the bejeebus out of me. If I can get a cold, I can get coronavirus. (Unless it was coronavirus?)  Started double-masking after that: surgical mask, then a thick cotton double-layer mask over it. After getting fully vaccinated, I am down to wearing just the surgical mask.

Post # 14
70 posts
Worker bee

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@betyl:  My dentist suggested that my cold may have been coronavirus, a horrifying suggestion, but at that point I had received the vaccine and there was no way to know. My fiancé didn’t get sick – and I think he would have if it was corona – I didn’t cough or have any trouble breathing, and it felt just like a classic cold – then again, coronavirus is more contagious than the common cold.

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