Double mask: Are 2 masks better than 1? Doctors weigh in

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Ever since the pandemic took hold, convincing everyone to wear a mask has been a challenge.

And now, with a more contagious variant of COVID-19 detected in the U.S., there's a question as to whether people should double up on their protection.

Former presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg was spotted wearing two masks at the inauguration.

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"I approach this like I approach a Chicago winter," said Dr. Michelle Prickett, of Northwestern Medicine. "If I'm going to be outside for a long time, I'm going to layer up."

Dr. Prickett said a double mask mandate is not necessary. Instead, she says, mask up according to your surroundings.

"If you're going to the grocery store, and it's going to be curbside, then maybe a smaller mask is ok," Dr. Prickett explained. "If you're going inside the grocery store and it's gonna take you an hour to be there , you might want to think about a double mask because there's likely going to be more people in the store."

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Health experts say wearing a mask is still one of the best safety measures to slow the spread of COVID. Dr. Robert Citronberg with Advocate Aurora Health said wearing just one good quality mask is sufficient.

"The ideal mask is a three-layer mask with two layers of fabric and then a filter on the inside," Dr. Citronberg said. "That's the best kind of mask you would wear. I advise against wearing single-layer, cloth masks and neck gaiters."

And in many cases, masks have become a fashion statement. At Humboldt House boutique in Humboldt Park, they recently stocked up on designs from local artists after nearly selling out at Christmas.

Experts say in the long run, it boils down to erring on the side of caution. If you do use two masks, you can take one off if it gets to be too much. Just make sure that the one that's on your face is good quality.
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