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With Covid-19 still mutating and many new variants still being discovered, the world is trying to maintain control of this pandemic and positive momentum.  While we continue to learn and monitor what will become of all these variants and whether or not vaccines will hold up against all of them, it’s time to maintain the hygiene measures and ensure up your mask game is up to recommended standards.

As we have learned in the last few months there have been several variants that are believed to be more-contagious and even more-deadly that are circulating.  Most experts and doctors agree that it is important to improve the effectiveness of your mask practices while we continue to gain data on these other strains. Numerous studies have shown that wearing a mask helps the wearers as well as those around them from the virus that causes Covid-19.

What is double masking, is it 100% necessary?

This topic has received a lot of press in the past few weeks.  The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) has recently endorsed double masking if you’re only using a cloth mask to ensure maximum protection.

Double masking is simply wearing one mask over another. Doing this obviously cannot hurt but is it 100% necessary?  Many experts agree that as opposed to many people that were just wearing a stylish cloth mask that at minimum they place a surgical 3ply mask beneath, it would provide much better protection than just a cloth mask.  An example of this is how public figures often didn’t want the bulky and unstylish look of an N95 mask.  The President for example wears his more stylish cloth mask over his N95 mask.

The CDC recommends wearing a face mask with at least 2-3 layers that fits snugly over your face.  If your mask already has multiple layers and fits tightly like in these N95 or KN95 masks from N95 Medical Supplies that have 5 layers, it’s not necessary to double mask.

More experts are recommending just wearing an N95 or KN95 to better protect against new variants.

The risk level of your setting is important so it’s not a bad idea to keep a few styles of masks available such as 3ply and KN95 and decide based on the setting you’ll be entering which mask to use.  For example, you probably don’t need to wear an N95 if you’re going on a walk with a friend or to the playground outside. But if you’re working indoors in a restaurant or grocery store, or going to an indoor location with many people, it’s a good idea to wear one.

What’s the best way to double mask if you do use cloth masks?

Most experts agree that if you are using a cloth mask that is more stylish but usually only provides one layer of protection that placing it over a surgical mask or N95 mask is the way to go.

A second mask is generally not necessary when wearing an N95 mask, which are certified to filter out at least 95% of very small particles, or a KN95 mask, the Asian equivalent of an N95. Wearing a surgical or cloth mask over your more expensive N95 masks could help protect the N95’s material and potentially extend its use.  This is a good link that shows the main differences in N95 and KN95 masks

How effective are the widely available and lower priced blue surgical masks?

The filtration of blue surgical masks can vary. Look for ASTM certification on surgical mask boxes. “Those are very good at filtering out aerosols of all sizes,” says Dr. Marr. Level two and three are especially good.

Another downside of surgical masks is they don’t fit snugly on most faces. “It’s just a rectangle and you’re trying to make it fit to your face, so there are inevitably gaps on the sides so they leak like crazy,” says Dr. Marr. This is where double masking can be helpful.

With all this extra consideration, it might just be better to get an N95 and KN95 mask since they are 5 layers and they have superior fit and seal.

Many of these masks—like N95s, KN95s, KF94s and surgical masks—are supposed to be for a single use, but people often reuse them. How many times can I wear them and how do I store them between uses?

Some scientists say such masks can be worn until they are visibly soiled or damaged.  Dr. Jones says multiple uses won’t degrade the filtration; it’s the fit that can degrade.  Another issue with taking masks on and off is if your mask came in contact with the virus and you are then touching and handling the mask, you can theoretically contaminate your hands so just be certain to wash hands thoroughly when taking the masks on and off and if reusing it might be a good idea to only do that a few times.

Store single-use masks that you intend to wear again somewhere dry and away from other things, like in a paper bag or open Tupperware, or hang it up somewhere, experts say.

Don’t use chemical disinfectants on masks. “If you’re spraying chemicals on your mask you’re going to be inhaling those chemicals,” says Dr. Volckens. And don’t wash N95s, because it will damage their electrical filtration ability, he warns.

Where can I get these from a trusted source?

N95 Medical Supplies is a USA based seller and ships all orders same day for 2-3 days typical delivery time and offers overnight expedited shipping if you’re really in a hurry.  They also have a done a lot of community donations and outreach as you can see here and they have support available for call or live chat if needed.

LA Weekly