The Latest on Masks: Layered and Snug
Everyone over age 2 should keep wearing masks in public. Here’s what kinds to wear and how to wear them.
We are no longer strangers to wearing masks in Washington. They’ve been a daily part of our lives for most of the past year. Even though vaccination rates are improving in Washington, we still need to be careful. There are new COVID-19 variants showing up now that remind us we cannot drop our guard yet. In light of this, and with new guidance from the CDC, we thought we should take a moment to talk about masks again.
To begin, masks are still required at all times for everyone when they are indoors in public. Masks may be removed outdoors in public if you can stay six feet apart from others. This even applies to those who are fully vaccinated, too.
Now, you may be wondering, “what masks are most effective,” or “what’s the best way to wear them?” Read on as we discuss the latest and greatest information we’ve learned over the past year.
What should I look for in a mask?
Here are some important things to consider:
- Choose a mask with two or three layers of fabric — cotton is best for breathability. Don’t use single-layer bandanas or gaiters, since they don’t work as well. For cloth masks, look for ones with tightly woven fabric. You can check this by holding the mask up to a light. If light doesn’t pass through, it’s a safe bet that it’s tightly woven fabric.
- Pick a mask with a nose wire. Bend the metal strip over your nose to create a secure fit against the top of your face. This can also help to keep your glasses from fogging up.
- Make sure the mask fits snugly over your nose, mouth, and chin. This helps keep your respiratory droplets in — and other people’s out. You can check the fit by cupping your hands around the edges of the mask. You should not feel air flowing out from the edges or near your eyes. Instead, you should feel warm air coming through the material in the front of the mask when you exhale.
- Don’t use masks with exhalation valves or vents. These can let virus particles escape into the air to spread to others.
- There are also different types of mask for different occasions. This tool from the Department of Labor and Industries can help you choose the right mask for your job setting.
How can I make my mask fit better?
There are products designed to help make your mask fit better. They are called mask fitters or braces. You can wear these over or under your mask to keep air from leaking out around the edges of the mask.
If you use disposable surgical masks, make a knot in each ear loop and tuck in the edges. See here for a video demo.
If your mask has adjustable ear loops, adjust them so your mask fits snugly against your face.
Can I layer multiple masks?
You absolutely can, depending on the type of masks.
It’s best to wear a disposable mask underneath a cloth mask. The cloth mask should fit snugly enough to push the edges of the disposable mask against your face. Acting State Health Officer Dr. Scott Lindquist shows how to “double mask” in this video.
Do not wear two disposable masks. They are not designed to fit tightly and wearing more than one will not improve fit. Also do not combine a KN95 type mask with any other mask since it can restrict too much airflow.
What else can I do?
Keep wearing your masks! And remember to keep practicing other ways to stop the spread of COVID-19 while you do so. You can check out our latest guidelines, resources and recommendations or at Coronavirus.wa.gov. Together we will prevent the spread.
Information in this blog changes rapidly. Sign up to be notified whenever we post new articles.
Check the state’s COVID-19 website for up-to-date and reliable info at coronavirus.wa.gov.
For more information about the vaccine, visit CovidVaccineWA.org. Check the vaccine locator tool to find out if it’s your turn for the vaccine and see a list of places where you can get it. The COVID-19 vaccine is provided at no cost to you.
Answers to your questions or concerns about COVID-19 in Washington state may be found at our website. You can also contact the Department of Health call center at 1–800–525–0127 and press # from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday, and 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday — Sunday and observed state holidays. Language assistance is available.