They say that whatever is worth doing is worth doing well — that includes wearing a dang mask during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC said Americans need to make their masks fit tighter so they get full protection against virus particles.
Officials offered a few lab-tested tips on Wednesday. One involves putting on a surgical mask and then a cloth mask over it. Another tip is to knot the ear loops of a surgical mask and make sure excess material is tucked in to avoid a side gap around the cheek.
Tests with dummies found exposure to potentially infectious aerosols was reduced by up to 95% when both the source of droplets and the receiver were masked up without air gaps around the edges.
“The bottom line is this — masks work and they work best when they have a good fit and are worn correctly,” said CDC Director Rochelle Walensky.
Besides double-masking or knotting, the CDC recommends elastic mask fitters that pin down the mask against the face. Wearers also can pull a sleeve of sheer nylon hosiery up from the neck and over the mask.
Taken together, the suggestions are the most formal effort by federal disease fighters to improve face coverings that shifted from an American oddity a year ago to must-have apparel for entering a grocery store or restaurant.
Reported U.S. coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths are decreasing, but transmission remains dangerously high and it will take months to vaccinate the estimated 70-75% of the U.S. population needed to achieve herd immunity.
In other words, piles of masks will remain in foyers and car consoles for a while.
“Until vaccine-induced population immunity is achieved, universal masking is a highly effective means to slow the spread of [COVID-19] when combined with other protective measures, such as physical distancing, avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated indoor spaces, and good hand hygiene,” the CDC report said.
The U.S. is administering an average of 1.5 million vaccine doses per day, up from 1.1 million two weeks ago, though experts say the country should shoot for 3 million as manufacturing improves and states open more sites.
“We have much more work to do. This is just the start,” said White House COVID-19 coordinator Jeff Zients.
More than 27 million Americans have been infected with the coronavirus, and more than 470,000 have died from the disease.
The Biden administration on Wednesday said the federal government will partner with Texas to build three mass-vaccination centers.
The centers will be at Fair Park in Dallas and two National Football League sites — NRG Stadium in Houston and AT&T Stadium in Arlington. The centers will open Feb. 22 with a total goal of 10,000 shots per day.
Texas follows California in accepting help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to establish centers that can immunize thousands of people per day, as supply ramps up and states expand eligibility. Federally supported centers are operating in Oakland and Los Angeles.
Mr. Zients thanked Democratic members of the Texas delegation in Congress and key Republicans, including Gov. Greg Abbott and the late Rep. Ron Wright, who died Sunday at age 67 following a COVID-19 diagnosis.
Mr. Zients said the push will help “communities hit hard by the pandemic.”
Also Wednesday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said his state and the federal government will open clinics in Brooklyn and Queens on Feb. 24 that will each vaccinate a planned 3,000 people per day. The Democrat said they are working on additional sites in other parts of the state.