Masks Offer Covid Protection, Provided You Wear Them Right
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By now most of us have settled on a preferred cloth mask to protect ourselves and others from coronavirus. But new research shows that a few simple upgrades in fabric, filters and fit are likely to provide even more protection.

• Three layers are better than two.

The best mask has two tightly woven layers of outer material with a filter material sandwiched in the middle. You can use surgical mask material or even a piece of a vacuum bag as a filter between two pieces of fabric. A well-fitting fabric mask with a third filter layer can stop 74-90% of risky particles.

• Flexible material is better.

Stiff material creates gaps. Look for a mask made of tightly woven flexible material that contours to your face. Masks with wire that can be molded around the nose also fit better by closing gaps where air can escape out and seep in.

• Ties are better than ear loops.

Masks that tie around your head fit better and can be more comfortable. Earloop masks can leave bigger gaps around your face and cause ears to become sore with longer use.

• Face shields should be used with a mask.

Face shields alone offered little to no protection. Although the clear plastic shield is impermeable, air seeps out and comes in around the edges of the shield.

• A well-fitted mask protects the wearer.

Although masks are most efficient at filtering outgoing germs, they do stop incoming germs at nearly the same rate in most cases, the researchers found.

Researchers noted that masks can’t do “100 percent of the work,” and it’s important to combine mask wearing with other measures, like hand-washing and restricting social contacts.

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