Dr. Anthony Fauci, who is now the chief medical adviser to Joe Biden, gave the thumbs up to wearing two masks in an appearance on the Today show. The host, Savannah Guthrie, asked Fauci,
“A lot of folks are hearing now about double-masking — wearing two masks or try to get one of those N95 medical-grade masks. Do you believe that’s advisable and makes a difference?”
“You know, it likely does because I mean this is a physical covering to prevent droplets and virus to get in. So if you have a physical covering with one layer, you put another layer on, it just makes common sense that it would likely be more effective and that’s the reason why you see people either double-masking or doing a version of an N95.”
Back in March, Fauci advised people not to wear a mask,
Right now, people should not be walking, there’s no reason to be walking around with a mask and often, there are unintended consequences. People keep fiddling with the mask and they keep touching their face.”
Is there any science behind this? According to Dr. Dean Winslow, an infectious disease expert at Stanford Health Care who corresponded with FOX, there is not. “There are no data to support (or refute) the idea that wearing two face masks would provide more protection” against coronavirus, he said.
Another expert, Raina MacIntyre, who researches mask effectiveness at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, says he does believe there’s benefits to two and even three masks – but that human error could make it counterproductive because people may be tempted to fiddle with the additional mask.
Expert opinions aside, it appears that Fauci was on TV and just said what he thought sounded good without being aware of the debate over the topic himself. Fauci is legitimately an expert on medical issues, though you can’t expect anyone to always get it right when it comes to something as confusing as COVID-19. But this is not a guy who inspires a lot of confidence if you pay attention to his record since the start of the pandemic.
John Hawkins is the author of 101 Things All Young Adults Should Know.