The mask debate on campus has shifted as the pandemic has continued. Rather than question when we should wear masks, questions are now swirling around the number and type of masks we should wear. Should we wear two masks? Or N-95 respirators?
The bottom line is that the CDC has not changed its recommendations for mask use (Considerations for Wearing Masks). The CDC recommends a mask with multiple layers, which Oberlin provides to students and employees.
N-95 masks are recommended for healthcare professionals only, as these individuals are routinely and directly exposed to patient secretions. N-95 masks are not readily available for purchase and are expensive. In addition, they are uncomfortable to wear for an extended period due to their tight fit.
There is national discussion regarding the use of double masks but there is no clear scientific evidence or recommendation on their use. It is clear that additional layers are beneficial, but this can be achieved with one mask. One disadvantage of two masks is that the wearer may adjust the outer layer periodically, thus touching a potentially contaminated surface. It may also be more difficult to breathe through multiple masks.
As long as you and everyone you're with consistently wear your mask over your mouth and nose, maintain a minimum of 6 feet of distance at all times, and wash hands and disinfect surfaces, the risk of infection is very low. Meanwhile, we will continue to monitor the CDC and Lorain County Public Health for modifications to their recommendations.