A recent study from the Centers for Disease Control found that a surgical mask underneath a cloth mask reduces exposure to COVID-19 by up to 96 percent, according to CNBC.
This reduces exposure to respiratory droplets and aerosols that could contain the virus. The study was conducted using dummies with two different mask-wearing techniques. The first technique involved wearing a surgical mask underneath a cloth mask, known as "double-masking." The second technique involved knotting the ear loops of a surgical mask and flattening it out to press flat across a dummy's face.
Both techniques decreased exposure. This brings regular masks to similar effectiveness that N95 respirators have, without the filtering aspect. With only one surgical mask, studies have shown that only 42 percent of particles are blocked from a cough. Furthermore, "air can leak around their edges, especially through the side gaps,” according to the CDC. Simply adjusting the mask so that it fits tighter on the face reduces exposure by 82.2 percent.
These findings should come in handy as new virus strains emerge and threaten the ongoing economic recovery campaign.