New COVID Precautions

Double masking may be an effective precaution with the transmission of COVID-19 variants.


Double masking may be an effective precaution with the transmission of COVID-19 variants.

Mia Burke, Prospect Staff Writer

With COVID cases going down at the end of January, to levels seen before the Thanksgiving holiday break, there is a new urgency to continue these trends and continue that decline. However, with new variants, including the B.1.1.7 strain from the United Kingdom and the N501Y strain from South Africa emerging in the States, new precautions may be necessary. 

These two emerging strains have shown to be more transmissible, which threatens to turn around the current case decline. Additionally, vaccines are beginning to be distributed and tests are being conducted to determine how resistant the two new strains are to the virus. Regardless of the test conclusions, it is important to note the new ways to protect oneself and those around them from these new strains. 

At a press briefing this past Wednesday, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said that they are “actively looking” at the new mask precaution of double masking, and that they will be collecting further data on the matter.

People have already been wearing two masks, but the question remains whether it is more effective to double up or not. Dr. Fauci, when speaking with NBC News, said the double mask tactic “just makes common sense” that it would be more effective than one mask. 

Dr. Amesh Adalja, M.D., a senior scholar at Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security, suggests wearing a double mask when the first mask is flimsy or inadequate. Examples of “inadequate” masks include bandanas or disposable masks that have been reused. The current CDC guidelines recommend a three layer cloth mask; Dr. Adalja believes those wearing a mask under the guideline, a N95k, KN95, or a KF94, may not benefit from adding another layer of mask on top. 

Regardless if the CDC presses for a new double mask recommendation or not, it is pivotal that people remain cautious to continue the case downfall in the upcoming months. The pandemic has now overtaken everyone’s lives for almost a whole year, and with new solutions arising, people are finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. In order to make it out once and for all though, precautions need to be the priority.