On February 10, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a report finding, among other things, that fitting a cloth mask over a medical procedure mask (“double masking”) improved source control and reduced wearer exposure to contracting COVID-19.
Since the report’s release, news articles have circulated that suggest double masking is now a formal recommendation by CDC. Upon review, AGC holds that these findings simply highlight the importance of a good fit to maximize overall mask performance for the user and those whom the user may encounter, and NOT a formal CDC recommendation. The CDC on February 11 updated its “Guidance for Wearing Masks” webpage, which contains “What You Need to Know” bullets that are good reminders of the policies and procedures related to masks that the CDC recommends. Neither the recent report nor the updated CDC webpage would by itself lead to changes in an employer’s existing safety procedures and policies.
Additionally, the updated webpage maintains the CDC’s position that NIOSH-approved N95 respirators are critical supplies that should be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders to prevent supply shortage, unless the assigned task(s) require this level of respirator protection (i.e. silica generating tasks).
For contractors whose employees require NIOSH-approved respirators, CDC updated its webpage “Counterfeit Respirators / Misrepresentation of NIOSH-Approval” on February 9 to assist employers with the identification of counterfeit respirators. This equipment may not be capable of providing the required respiratory protection to workers.