By Peter D'Oench

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A medical expert is offering some safety tips about face masks during the coronavirus pandemic amid concerns about a new variant that could spread “very rapidly.”

CBS4’s Peter D’Oench spoke Tuesday with Dr. Dushyantha Jayaweera, an infectious disease specialist with the University of Miami Health’s Miller School of Medicine.

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White House Advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci recently said wearing two faces at once during the pandemic would likely provide more protection. The nation also saw images from President Joe Biden’s inauguration of people double masking.

D’Oench asked Dr. Jayaweera about the idea of wearing two face masks at once.

Dr. Jayaweera said, “The CDC has recommended single face masks. They have not gone to say two face masks. But there are some studies which said two masks offer better protection. Just to be practical, you should wear one face mask properly. But if you have the resources a second mask increases your protection.”

He also demonstrated for CBS4.

“So wearing the mask like this and wearing it so it fits nicely and covers the mouth and making sure these strings on the mask are properly placed is important,” he said. “It’s the way you use the mask that is most important. It means a properly fitted mask with the nose covered.”

The CDC has recommended people wear masks with two layers of tightly-woven cotton fabric.

“It’s all about touch,” said Dr. Jayaweera. “If you keep touching the mask outside, you will contaminate it, so you need to keep washing your hands. And if you wash the mask, you must wash it very carefully and dry it in a high temperature dryer just like you dry your clothes at home.”

He said cloth masks should be washed every day.

D’Oench also asked if people should be wearing N95 masks or if they would be depleting the supply that is so essential for first responders like medical doctors, nurses, firefighter paramedics and other critical first responders.

“That’s a difficult question,” he said. “It depends on what is available and if we have the resources. I have seen a lot of people wearing N95 masks. They buy them from commercial vendors.”

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Dr. Jayaweera said people cannot let their guard down right now during the pandemic.

“I cannot stress how important it is to wear these masks,” he said. “It is so important because of the new variant of COVID-19 that has the ability to spread very rapidly. Because of this variant we have to wear our masks and social distance.

“This is common sense. We know what we have to do. We know it is inconvenient but what is the alternative. The alternative is to end up in the emergency room and the ICU with severe COVID so we all have to work together to follow the guidelines.”

Near Bayfront Park in Miami, CBS4 noticed some people not wearing face masks in public and thus defying the standing county order for people to wear masks in public.

But most seen walking up and down the sidewalk on Biscayne Boulevard were wearing masks. They also said they did not see themselves double masking.

“I believe one mask is enough,” said Fernando Vasconcellos. “I have ventilation here on my mask. I believe I would double mask if I went to a hospital and see a special type of environment where it would be appropriate.”

Maura Rodriguez said, “That’s too uncomfortable. I can’t stand wearing two face masks at once. One is enough.”

Rodriguez, who is elderly, also said, “Wearing two masks at once gives you shortness of breath. It’s bad for my health.”

Standing beside her, her husband kept nodding his head and finally said, “I agree. I agree with my wife.”

You can be fined $100 for not wearing a mask in Miami-Dade.

Miami-Dade PD said they are still enforcing the county’s emergency order and issuing citations, even though Gov. Ron DeSantis has declared a moratorium on collecting payments.

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Following that moratorium, Miami PD said they are focusing on educating the public about the importance of wearing a mask.

Peter D'Oench