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What to know about the CDC's double-masking recommendation

A man wears two masks as he visits

A man wears two masks as he visits Times Square in December. Credit: AFP via Getty Images/Kena Betancur

Eleven months after the World Health Organization, on March 11, 2020, designated the coronavirus as a global pandemic, and after nearly 500,000 Americans have died of the virus, mask-wearing — together with physical distancing and hand-washing — remains key in slowing the virus’ spread.

Now with new research out, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Feb. 10 added to its face-masking recommendation: consider doubling up on masks. Here's what you need to know about the new advice:

Why should I now wear two masks and not just one?

Am I now required to wear two masks?

What if I wear an N95 mask?

What about a KN95 mask?

Are there some people for whom double masks aren’t a good idea and who should stick to wearing just one?

Do masks protect me or just other people?

Wait, didn’t the CDC actually used to recommend against masking?