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5 ways to make your face mask more protective

Layering a cloth mask on top of a surgical mask helps achieve a tighter fit while also adding an extra layer of filtration. Double-masking like this increases protection against the coronavirus. Michele Abercrombie / NPR

(Maria Godoy/ NPR) — It’s time to up your mask game.

With new, more contagious strains of the coronavirus spreading in the U.S., and transmission levels still very high in many places, some public health experts recommend that Americans upgrade from the basic cloth masks that many have been wearing during the pandemic.

“A cloth mask might be 50% effective at blocking viruses and aerosols,” says Linsey Marr, a researcher at Virginia Tech who studies airborne virus transmission. “We’re at the point now … that we need better than 50%.”

When you’re outdoors, where fresh air can quickly disperse virus droplets and smaller particles, a cloth mask is still fine, Marr says. But infectious particles can accumulate indoors, and that’s when you want a better mask. “I am now wearing my best mask to the grocery store. I wasn’t before,” Marr says. (…)

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