MINNEAPOLIS — A new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report suggests double masking may give you even better protection from the virus, but only with certain types of masks, and in certain situations.
The report shows that wearing a cloth mask over a surgical mask can often add more protection.
The CDC concluded that wearing both masks at the same time was better, because, alone, the surgical mask doesn't create a tight seal.
During their experiments, the CDC discovered that adding a cloth mask over the top of a surgical mask creates a better seal by closing up openings and air leaks.
But experts say the takeaway here shouldn't be that two masks are always better.
"It's about filtration and fit,” infectious diseases expert Dr. Michael Osterholm says.
He explains how wearing two inadequate masks won’t improve your situation.
If your first mask doesn’t right, simply adding another one onto your face won’t make a difference.
Say you have two cloth masks that leave gaps on the top or sides, simply stacking both of them on top of each other won't fix the problem, and Osterholm says in that situation, having two masks might actually be worse, because it will be harder to breathe.
"When you double mask, you want something that is tight face fitting, and something you can use, something that is breathable,” Osterholm says.
He recommends feeling around your mask for air movement and leaks.
A second mask could fix the problem, if it pushes the material closer to your face and creates a better seal.
If it doesn't, he says two masks are not better than one.
"Merely putting that much more in front of your face doesn't improve filtration necessarily," Osterholm says.
State infectious disease director Kris Ehresmann says another great option is a mask with a metal nose bridge you can adjust to your face.
That will create a tighter seal around your nose and if you wear glasses, it will prevent them from fogging up.