CDC updates guidelines, recommending double masks

Photo courtesy of Chris Zúniga, Flickr

New masking recommendations from the CDC have emerged 13 months after COVID-19 was declared a global health emergency by the World Health Organization. The importance of wearing a mask or cloth face covering was stressed early on, being cited as one of the most important methods to slow the spread of the coronavirus, along with social distancing and repeated hand washing and sanitizing. 

Many states have introduced mandates legally requiring masks to be worn in public by everyone who can medically tolerate them. In the early months of the pandemic, this led to protests against the mask mandates. Many of these protestors stated they believed that COVID-19 was a hoax, or at least exaggerated by the government, scientists and public health officials. The general consensus among the protestors was that they believed they should not be required to wear masks when out in public. 

As the pandemic raged on and the death toll grew, protests died down and data proved masks to be an effective way to slow the infection rate of coronavirus. What was once bizarre to us in wake of the pandemic became normal, and people accepted our temporary new reality. Precautions that garnered protests no longer gained that reaction.

We are seeing that reaction once again as an additional precaution known as “double-masking." This method is recommended by the CDC to limit the spread of COVID-19 by 92.5 percent due to the tighter fit provided by the additional mask layer. Double-masking can be achieved by wearing a standard medical mask under a cloth mask.

This seems like an adequate trade-off for such an increased amount of protection from the virus. Of course, with all new recommended precautions for COVID-19, there are people who will rail against them. Many have been saying that the double-masking is too hard to breathe with, or that the precaution is moot with the vaccines beginning to roll out. 

To the doubters, I say this: there is difficulty breathing, I understand that. The vaccine is beginning to be distributed, I understand that, too. However, there are still people whose lives are at risk because of COVID-19 and whose lives can be saved because of double-masking. This new precaution has the ability to limit the spread of the virus particles.

In times of a dangerous national emergency, we have to look beyond our own discomfort and doubt and think about the well-being of our countrymen. The morally viable option is to do what is best for the most at-risk people. If you can physically handle double-masking, I say that everyone who can should do this. The more the spread of COVID-19 is limited, the faster we can begin rebuilding our country to the way it was prior to the pandemic.