Are two face masks better than one? Mid-South doctor weighs in

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Experts have been saying for months to wear a mask in public or when otherwise around people, and now, some are suggesting that wearing two masks may be the way to go.

COVID-19 spreads through droplets that leave the mouth and nose when talking, coughing, or just breathing. Mounting evidence suggests wearing two masks could prevent those droplets from spreading from an infected person and to those nearby, as well.

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“If you’re comfortable wearing two masks, again, there’s no reason not to wear two masks,” said Dr. Mar Castellaw, a doctor of internal medicine at Baptist Memorial.

The discussion about two masks ignited online after multiple people were seen donning double masks during the presidential inauguration.

Monday morning, Dr. Anthony Fauci, speaking on national television, said on the question of whether two masks offer more protection against catching COVID-19, that it “likely does.”

The issue attracted enough attention for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to weigh-in, concluding that 50-70 percent of droplets are blocked by masks with multiple layers.

“The mask acts as a barrier to prevent inhalation of those particles. Wearing two masks is probably not a bad idea,” Castellaw said.

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Doctors do caution doubling up could cause those wearing them to touch or adjust them, opening themselves up to infection as a result.

Castellaw said potential breathing difficulties should be considered, too.

“There are some people that have breathing issues to begin with” who may be compromised, even more,” he said.

Castellaw reiterated the importance of wearing a mask correctly, over both your nose and mouth.

When worn properly, an N-95 mask is about as effective as two cloth masks, Castellaw said.