A number of leaders were pictured at the inauguration of President Joe Biden and Kamala Harris wearing both a surgical mask and a cloth mask. Dr. Anthony Facui said Monday that wearing two masks “likely does” provide more protection than one.

“So if you have a physical covering with one layer, you put another layer on, it just makes common sense that it likely would be more effective,” Fauci told NBC. “That’s the reason why you see people either double masking or doing a version of an N95.”

The CDC also recommends that people wear masks that have at least two layers for the same reasons, Fauci explained. The CDC, however, have not directly recommended the use of two masks at once. On its website, the CDC explains that as well as stopping the spread of a wearer’s spit particles, masks “can also reduce wearers’ exposure to infectious droplets through filtration, including filtration of fine droplets and particles less than 10 microns. The relative filtration effectiveness of various masks has varied widely across studies, in large part due to variation in experimental design and particle sizes analyzed. Multiple layers of cloth with higher thread counts have demonstrated superior performance compared to single layers of cloth with lower thread counts.”

A Duke University study suggests that disposable surgical masks are more effective in filtering respiratory particles than cloth masks. By wearing a second cloth mask on top of a surgical mask, the masks will likely fit more snugly and lead to less particle spread.

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