COLORADO SPRINGS — Last month, the talk of wearing two masks during the pandemic began making the rounds. I spoke with an infectious disease expert with UCHealth who says when it comes to wearing masks, there is one area where our focus should be: wearing one high-quality mask.
Dr. Larissa Pisney, MD, is an infectious disease expert at UCHealth in Aurora and the medical director of the infectious disease clinic. When I asked Dr. Pisney if we should be wearing two masks, she said, “We want to make sure that people are wearing masks that they feel comfortable wearing all day in the places and circumstances they need to (be wearing one).”
As for the messaging that two masks are better than one, she says: “It seems like that messaging got walked back a little bit. The most important thing is that everyone wears a mask. The CDC is not recommending that you have to wear two masks, and you don't have to wear an N95. They do want you to wear a high-quality mask and if you go to their website (HERE) they have some good outlines of what that entails.”
In some cases, Dr. Pisney says wearing two masks can actually do more harm than good. “We worry that if people are wearing two masks it may be more uncomfortable to breathe, and they may end up touching their face more, manipulating the mask. If people do feel comfortable wearing two masks, they certainly can, but we want to make sure that people are wearing a mask that they feel comfortable wearing all day if needed.”
So what type of masks are most effective and what should you look for when buying masks? Dr. Pisney says, “There are a lot of mask practices that are not effective. The gaiters, we see a lot in Colorado and ski masks, or even a bandana that may look cool in terms of a mask, but these are not very effective. There are some masks they make for women that are a more stylish fabric, but it's usually a thinner linen-type fabric. Those also aren't going to be very effective and people really need to be wearing higher-quality masks. If you’re looking in the store when it comes to non-medical grade disposable masks look for at least three-ply. Surgical masks and some people were comfortable wearing KN95’s or in KF94’s, but it's important for people to realize those are not equivalent to medical grade N95's, but they are good mask for everyday use, and they're comfortable to wear
A cloth mask should be made of two or three layers of material, so those are all examples of a good mask to wear.”
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