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CDC Recommends Double Masking

Wearing a mask or face covering has become the norm since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic last March. Doing so has been proven to lessen the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the disease, COVID-19.

Now, it appears we may have to add another layer to our mask-wearing habits. With three new variants of the virus now making their way around the globe, and questions of the effectiveness of vaccines against those new variants, experts have suggested wearing two masks. Early Wednesday afternoon, the Center for Disease Control backed up that notion.

The CDC announced the results of a study that found wearing two masks is more formidable protection against infection from the virus. Specifically, the study found that doing so blocks 92.5% of particles from a cough, while a surgical mask blocked the same particles by 42% and a cloth mask by 44.3%.

As if we didn’t have enough to worry about.

But what’s the conversation like on social media? We enlisted Salesforce’s Social Studio, housed at the Adam Brown Social Media Command Center, for help. For this search, we used the keywords: “double” and “mask” and “cdc,” as well as “double” and “mask” and “covid,” to go along with “two” and “mask” and “cdc,” and “two” and “mask” and “covid.” As of 10 pm ET Wednesday, the search generated 50,317 posts over the previous seven days, 30,945 of which came that day alone, since the announcement.

Sentiment of this search is 52.9% positive, when evaluating only the posts made on Wednesday. Overall, it’s 52.5% negative. The word cloud then generated from the posts today reveals words such as “protect,” “better,” and “substantially,” which came partly from media reports, but also posts in response to those reports.

Along with the word cloud, however, are a couple of posts with sarcasm that appear to have negative sentiment. Social Studio does not account for sarcasm, which would make the score more positive than it maybe should be.

In other words, it’s difficult to read too much into these words from this search. But looking at other areas of intrigue, Social Studio found that the conversation is emanating predominantly from the 25-34 age demographic.

And not surprisingly, the overwhelming majority of the posts came from Twitter. But it appears that there’s a significant conversation going on The Wall Street Journal (orange) and The Washington Post (green). On the first, the conversation is going on among the 25-34 demographic, while on the latter, it’s the 35-44 demographic.

While N95 masks, those worn by healthcare professionals, is mentioned in the article cited above. But masks with PM2.5 filters are not. It’s unclear if these masks would serve as well as double masking or not.

Basically, there are a lot of factors to consider in this search. And it seems, as has been common, there are plenty of split opinions. And most can agree wearing any face covering is better than none at all.

We’ll continue to monitor this situation and others from our perch on the fourth floor of the College of Communication & Information at UT.