University Updates Mask-Wearing Guidance
University Updates Mask-Wearing Guidance
CDC says properly worn masks can reduce COVID-19 transmission by 95 percent
As new, even more contagious variants of the virus that is COVID-19 continue to spread across the country, choosing the right mask and wearing it properly have become more important than ever.
The good news is that determining how to do that just got a lot easier: if the choice is between a cloth mask or a disposable medical mask, you can choose to wear both of them—at the same time. Or you could knot and tuck the medical mask ear loops so that the mask fits tightly on your face. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention research has found that double masking (wearing a cloth mask over a surgical mask) and snugging up the fit of a single surgical mask could reduce the airborne transmission of the coronavirus by more than 95 percent when masks were worn by both the source of aerosols and the individual being exposed.
That finding and others have led the CDC to update its masking guidance, and its new and improved advice is echoed in new masking guidelines issued by the University. Judy Platt, director of Student Health Services and chair of the Medical Advisory Group, encourages the use of face masks that consist of two or three layers of material (either two-ply or three-ply), and that completely cover the chin, mouth, and nose. Platt recommends checking the snugness of a mask by placing both hands around the mask and making sure that air is passing through the material, rather than through openings on the sides of the mask.
Health officials recommend fitted N-95 masks, but they acknowledge that those are hard to find. This New York Times article offers some tips, but no guarantees, on how to find one. KN95, KF94, and similar masks also provide excellent protection, but they can be expensive and are often in short supply, too. Surgical or high-grade medical masks usually have three layers and provide greater protection than cloth masks. Three-ply masks or two-ply masks consisting of a layer of polypropylene and cotton or two layers of cotton and two layers of polypropylene offer good protection, and they are generally easier to find. Gaiters, bandanas, neck fleeces, scarves, and masks with exhalation valves should not be counted on to reduce the transmission of coronavirus.
Platt emphasizes that regardless of which type of mask is used, it must be used consistently, and it must fit snugly, with no air escaping around the sides. Double masking with a cloth mask over a surgical mask or knotting and tucking the ear loop of surgical masks can improve snugness and provide greater protection. Most important, masks should be worn whenever possible, and if a mask is removed, it is important to keep a safe distance from others. The greatest chance of viral spread occurs when people eat, drink, and chat unmasked.
Why must the mask cover the chin? I would think covering mouth and nose would be sufficient
The CDC updated their recommendation on neck gaiters in December 2020. They concluded gaiters are an effective mode of reducing viral transmission. Please update your guidance to the current CDC recommendation for use of neck gaiters
If a gaiter is worn is should be two layers. We decided to keep the language to avoid gaiters given the potential for increased aerosolization with single-ply gaitors made of certain material. Thank you for raising this! Check out more here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/about-face-coverings.html
Do you think the students are not capable of forming 2 layers with their gaiter? Why not just follow the CDC recommendation?
A lot about the masks doesn’t make sense. I mean Dr Fauci said that they do not provide protection against viruses and that was based on his decades of experience. Then the media got mad at him and he changed his mind. I’ll go with his opinion before he was pressured.
You MUST include cutting the straps when disposing of any mask!
The article linked is based on simulation and the authors rightfully note that “The findings of these simulations should … [not be] interpreted as being representative of the effectiveness of these masks when worn in real-world settings.”
Masks prevent the spread of respiratory droplets, but they all allow aerosols to escape. It’s not clear that they prevent virus transmission in real-world settings (or even in real class settings).
I won’t be double masking.
Serious question: in FL, enforcing mask mandates has been made illegal since Sept, and their businesses are 100% open. Florida also has half the covid deaths per capita as we do. Doesn’t the air just travel through gaps, the path of least resistance? I mean it still gets in the surrounding air.