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Multi-layered cloth masks as effective as surgical mask, study suggests

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and President Joe Biden on Tuesday announced that fully vaccinated people can go without masks while outdoors, officials noted that there are still many instances in which a mask is necessary, including in crowded settings. As such, research continues into which face coverings are most effective, with a recent finding suggesting that multi-layered cloth masks are as viable as surgical masks.

The team, made up of researchers from the Universities of Bristol and Surrey, went so far as to say that if both an infected person and a healthy individual are both wearing well-fitted masks, cloth or surgical, there is a 94% less chance of coronavirus exposure.

The research, published in the Physicals of Fluids journal, focused specifically on three-layered cloth masks and analyzed how liquid droplets are captured and filtered out, according to a news release posted on EurekAlert.org. Under ideal conditions, with a good fit, the cloth masks were found to perform similarly to surgical masks, reducing exposure by up to 75 percent.

HERE’S WHERE UNVACCINATED PEOPLE CAN REMOVE THEIR MASKS, ACCORDING TO CDC

“While wearing a simple and relatively inexpensive cloth face mask cannot eliminate the risk of contracting COVID-19, measurements and our theoretical model suggests they are highly effective in reducing transmission,” Dr. Richard Sear, co-author of the study and Leader of the Soft Matter Group at the University of Surrey, said. “We hope that our work inspires mask designs to be optimized in the future and we hope it helps to remind people of the importance of continuing to wear masks while COVID-19 remains present in the community.”

VACCINATED PEOPLE SHOULD MASK UP IN THESE LOCATIONS, CDC SAYS

The World Health Organization (WHO) continues to advise facial coverings while in public settings, and dozens of countries have deployed their own mandates. In the U.S., fully vaccinated people are still advised to wear a mask while in crowded indoor settings, such as a movie theater or museum, but can now attend a small outdoor gathering with other fully vaccinated or unvaccinated people without wearing a mask. They can also safely dine at an outdoor restaurant with friends from multiple households without a mask.

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