Most People Support Double-Masking—But That Doesn’t Mean They’re Actually Doing It, Poll Reports

By Alison Durkee | Forbes | Feb 17, 2021

TOPLINE
Americans are broadly supportive of public health recommendations to layer face masks as new variants of the coronavirus spread throughout the country, a new Harris poll found—but a much smaller share are actually following the guidelines and double-masking themselves.

KEY FACTS
The poll of 1,984 U.S. adults between Feb. 12 and 14 found 61% of respondents “strongly” or “somewhat” support double-masking as a concept.

Though they think it’s a good idea, 40% said they’re still not double-masking “right now,” as compared with 32% who believe “everyone” should be layering masks and 28% who say the practice is “going too far.”

Only 43% of respondents said they’re double-masking always or most of the time, and 39% say they never do.

A majority are upgrading their masks in some way, though: 57% say they’re either wearing two masks or medical masks, which offer higher protection than cloth masks.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed its mask guidancerecently to recommend that people either wear a cloth mask with multiple fabric layers or layer a disposable mask underneath a cloth mask.

A CDC study found double-masking properly can reduce the risk of transmitting infectious Covid-19 particles by as much as 95%.

BIG NUMBER
90%. That’s how many respondents said they are wearing a face mask in public always or most of the time, even if they aren’t necessarily double-masking.

CHIEF CRITIC
Not all experts have been proponents of double-masking, with University of Wisconsin engineering professor David Rothamer telling the Washington Post the practice can cause more “air leakage” and uses up more masks. “The only reason to [wear two masks] is if you can get better fit,” he told the Post.

SURPRISING FACT
The CDC does not recommend layering disposable masks on top of each other or double-masking while wearing a N95 or KN95 mask. This is because N95 and KN95 masks are designed to be worn on their own and adding a second mask could “affect how well they fit the face and decrease their effectiveness” and “increase the effort needed to breathe through them,” the CDC told the Los Angeles Times.

KEY BACKGROUND
Upgraded face mask wearing has become an issue as several new variants of the coronavirus have started to spread throughout the country, which are believed to be more transmissible and in some cases likely more deadly. There are approximately 1,300 recorded Covid-19 cases linked to the mutations as of Wednesday, according to the CDC, with most cases being the B.1.1.7 variantfirst detected in the United Kingdom. There are so far 1,277 cases of that strain in 42 states, and a recent study found cases linked to the variant were doubling in the U.S. approximately every 10 days.

Read the full story at Forbes.