America’s top infectious disease expert said it’s “possible” that federal health officials could soon recommend “double masking” in an effort to better prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Speaking to the Washington Post, Dr. Anthony Fauci reiterated that researchers with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are looking into this matter, noting that more data is needed before a decision will be made.
“That’s possible,” that the CDC could recommend two masks, Fauci said. “Just [in] discussions with my CDC colleagues yesterday … the CDC is looking at doing a study of seeing whether or not two masks might be better than one, it makes common sense that you would think – and the reason they don’t recommend it right now it’s a science-based organization, [so] they make recommendations based on data and science, so that’s the reason why they’re going to look at that particular issue.”
Fauci’s comments come after the CDC on Friday said it is currently studying the effectiveness of double masks, specifically a cloth mask placed over a medical mask, in stopping coronavirus spread, though does not yet have “hard data” to support whether it’d be better than using a single mask.
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“We don’t recommend for or against double masking,” Dr. John Brooks, the CDC’s chief medical officer of COVID-19 response, said. “We want to put out there all the options that are available to people. If we can get people to mask period, that is the first big step.”
Brooks, who was participating in the Infectious Diseases Society of America briefing on Friday, said the agency would “share the information” as soon as possible. He said that some evidence suggests that using a cloth and medical mask could block over 90% or more of virus particles, which would be near the level of protection that N95 masks offer.
“All of you know wearing masks remains a key part of public response to COVID-19,” Brooks said, in his opening remarks. “CDC recommends all persons over the age of 2 should wear a mask in public settings and around people outside of your household.”
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Brooks added that the agency is continuing to evaluate the effectiveness of different material combinations, and cautioned that sometimes more doesn’t necessarily equate to better, referring to the example of multiple condom use. However, if using a double mask makes a person feel safe and results in another person practicing mask use, he doesn’t foresee it as an issue.
“If double masking is an option that they would adopt to using a mask, I would endorse it wholeheartedly,” he said at the time.
Fox News’ Alexandria Hein contributed to this report.