As Americans continue to follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), their state, and local health departments regarding mask wearing and quarantine guidelines, some may be wondering how to maximize their health and safety as the pandemic evolves.
The CDC has released a report, which includes findings on maximizing the fit of cloth and medical procedure masks to reduce COVID-19 transmission and exposure. In addition to the report, the CDC has updated quarantine recommendations for vaccinated individuals.
Double-Masking Offers Additional Protection
According to the CDC’s report, double-masking refers to fitting a cloth mask over a medical procedure mask. The report findings also claimed that knotting the ear loops of a medical procedure mask, tucking in, and flattening the extra material close to the face maximizes the fitting of your mask. By utilizing these modified practices, you can substantially improve source control and reduce wearer exposure.
Experimental simulations were conducted in January, finding that double-masking decreased aerosol particle transmission by approximately 95% at a 6-foot radius. It is important to note that this research focused specifically on fitting a cloth mask over a medical procedure mask. Meaning the CDC research has not yet addressed additional combinations such as cloth-over-cloth double-masking.
Updated Recommendations for Vaccinated Individuals
The CDC has stated that, while the risk of COVID-19 transmission from vaccinated individuals is still uncertain, vaccination has been demonstrated to prevent symptomatic COVID-19 cases. According to the recently released interim COVID-19 vaccine recommendations, vaccinated individuals who have been exposed to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 symptoms are not required to quarantine if they meet all the following criteria:
- Have been fully vaccinated, meaning at least two weeks have passed since receipt of the second dose in a two-dose series, or at least two weeks have passed since receipt of one dose of a single-dose vaccine.
- Are currently within three months of receiving the last dose in the vaccination series.
- Have remained asymptomatic since the current COVID-19 exposure.
If you do not meet all three of the aforementioned criteria, you should continue to follow current quarantine guidance after exposure to someone with a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19. Furthermore, vaccinated patients and residents in healthcare settings are still recommended to quarantine following an exposure to someone with a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19.
As the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines grows, the CDC’s recommendations for vaccinated individuals will be updated, including the timing of the current vaccination series.
Current CDC guidance remains that community use of masks can help avert future lockdowns, especially if combined with other measures such as social distancing, handwashing and using adequate ventilation systems.
Stay Safe. Stay Healthy.