What are the recommendations around wearing double masks?

On Feb. 10, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released the results of a study that examined aerosol spread between mannequin heads wearing masks. The study results further confirmed that wearing a well-fitting mask can significantly reduce (by about 95%) the risk of coronavirus exposure.

The CDC also provided tips for having a well-fitting mask and noted that double-masking may be helpful to improve fit, but is not necessary for all.

The infection prevention team has considered the results of the study. VUMC's masking guidance continues to be the following:

  • Wear surgical/procedure masks in all clinical areas (with eye protection for patient encounters) and
  • Cloth masks may be worn in non-clinical areas.
  • Multi-layer cloth masks are preferred instead of single layer cloth masks.
  • Masks should fit close to the face.
  • Masks should be worn over the mouth AND nose.

If you have a mask that is not well-fitting with gaps on the side (see photo A), the fit may be improved by using ear loop straps where they meet the mask and tucking the excess mask underneath, as was done in the CDC study (see photo C).

We do not recommend double masking unless, as noted by the CDC, you are unable to have a well-fitted mask.

All masking guidelines remain in effect regardless of vaccination status. It is still required for all workforce members to wear a well-fitted mask until studies are complete to understand the transmission of COVID-19 in vaccinated individuals.

Mask GapFitted Mask