Health Advice



How to make sure your masks provide max protection

By Michael Roizen, M.D. on

When Antonio Banderas starred in the 1998 film "The Mask of Zorro," audiences were glad to go along with the fantasy that covering the mysterious hero's upper face and nose with a small black mask made it impossible to figure out who he was. But we now know that his identity -- and his safety -- would have been better protected if he had worn two masks.

That's what the latest research published in the American Journal of Infection Control indicates when it comes to shielding yourself from COVID-19. Researchers from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health tested various masks and ways of masking and found fit modifications improve protection from infection.

Unmodified masks (cloth or medical) block around 56% of cough aerosols and around 42% of exhaled aerosols. But if you double mask, with a cloth mask over a medical mask, you block around 85% of coughed and 91% of exhaled aerosols.

Even better: If you add an elastic brace over a medical mask, you can block 95% of cough and 99% of exhaled aerosols. (An elastic brace goes over the mask, sealing the edges, and is secured with two bands around your head.) And an N95 mask may do even better when appropriately fit.

As Omicron spreads and Delta continues to cause serious complications, straining the health care system to the max, it's smart to adopt the most-effective masking techniques when you're in crowded areas outdoors and in all indoor spaces -- it's just good common sense.



Health pioneer Michael Roizen, M.D., is chief wellness officer emeritus at the Cleveland Clinic and author of four No. 1 New York Times bestsellers. His next book is "The Great Age Reboot: Cracking the Longevity Code for a Younger Tomorrow." Do you have a topic Dr. Mike should cover in a future column? If so, please email

(c)2022 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.

Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

(c) 2022 Michael Roizen, M.D. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.



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