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Should you now wear two masks? Let's ask a doctor.

Posted at 12:56 PM, Jan 27, 2021

RICHMOND, Va. -- With a new, possibly more contagious, variant of the COVID-19 virus likely spreading, you may be wondering whether it's effective to wear two masks.

Rebekah Butterfield, an Epidemiologist with the Richmond and Henrico Health Districts, said there are several factors at play when it comes to the effectiveness of a mask, but depending on the kind of mask you're wearing -- doubling up isn't out of the question.

Butterfied said you shouldn't do anything that's going to hinder your breathing.

She said the most important thing is for people to simply have a mask.

Within that, though, Butterfield said health experts look at the viral filtration efficacy of that mask -- including the size of the holes on a microscopic scale and how good the fabric is at catching respiratory particles, etc.

Double-ply fabric tends to catch particles better, according to Butterfield.

"Barring an N95, which is difficult to get, and really, in scarcity should be reserved for frontline workers in the hospitals and emergency personnel, I think the best thing that you can do is just look for a 2 ply mask," said Butterfield. "Make sure that it is secure around your face."

She added that if you have a single-ply mask, it may be better to wear two, as long as you can breathe.

Butterfield also stressed the importance of a good fit.

"You can have the best mask in the world. But if it's not tight against your face, and you've got gaps around your nose or chin, then it's not going to be effective," said Butterfield.