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Will double masking help protect you as COVID cases increase, new variants discovered?

Dr. Anthony Fauci chimed in about the concept of double masking amid ongoing COVID-19 concerns.

ATLANTA — As new COVID-19 variants are discovered across the United States and as cases continue to increase, some are asking if two masks are better than one. 

One variant in particular from the UK is know to be more contagious and has been reported in Georgia, according to the Department of Public Health. 

So while you are out at the grocery store - or somewhere else in public, why not wear two masks? 

Dr. Anthony Fauci chimed in about the concept of double masking amid ongoing COVID-19 concerns. During an interview with Savannah Guthrie on NBC’s TODAY last week, he was asked for his thoughts on if wearing two masks would make a difference.

“It likely does because this is a physical covering to prevent droplets and virus to get in,” Dr. Fauci told Guthrie. “So if you have a physical covering with one layer, you put another layer on it just makes common sense that it likely would be more effective. That’s the reason why you see people either double masking or doing a version of an N95.”

Researchers at Virginia Tech also say wearing two cloth masks will increase the efficacy from 50% to 75%.

“Wearing two masks helps improve the filtration ability of the mask in both directions,” said Linsey Marr, an airborne disease transmission expert of Virginia Tech. “So it helps protect you better and it helps protect others.”

A professor of infectious diseases for UW Medicine in Washington said if you want to wear two, fine, but it is more important to at least wear one. 

"Everyone should wear at least one mask, and if they want to wear a second mask, they can, but they should ask themselves, are they doing it because the first mask they're wearing is low quality, or because they just feel more safe and confident wearing a second mask,” Dr. Paul Pottinger told 11Alive sister station KING5.

He says one well-fitted, multi-layered cloth mask is effective. 

"Look, the truth is that the more layers of fabric you have between yourself and the outside world and all the germs out there, and the lower the chance of something sneaking its way through," Pottinger said. 

Dr. Joseph Gastaldo, who specializes in infectious diseases with OhioHealth, agrees that mask layering is a good strategy.

“The more layers of filter you have, it does make sense that wearing more than one mask would do a better, more efficient job of filtering out particles in the virus,” he told our sister station WBNS..