US government researchers found that two masks are better than one in slowing coronavirus spread, but health officials stopped short of recommending that everyone double up.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday reported the results of a lab experiment that spaced two artificial heads 6 feet from each other and checked to see how many coronavirus-sized particles spewed by one were inhaled by the other.
The researchers found that wearing one mask — surgical or cloth — blocked around 40% of the particles coming toward the head that was breathing in. When a cloth mask was worn on top of a surgical mask, about 80% were blocked.
When both the exhaling and inhaling heads were double-masked, more than 95% of the particles were blocked, said the CDC’s Dr John Brooks.
Still, for now, health authorities acknowledge they have their hands full just trying to get more people to wear one mask and wear it correctly.
“The first challenge is to get as many as people as possible masking. And then for those that do mask, to help them get the best benefit out of that mask,” Brooks said.