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Masks Not Enough to Stop COVID-19’s Spread Without Distancing

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Simply wearing a mask may not be enough to prevent the spread of COVID-19 without social distancing.

In Physics of Fluids, by AIP Publishing, researchers tested how five different types of mask materials impacted the spread of droplets that carry the coronavirus when we cough or sneeze.

Every material tested dramatically reduced the number of droplets that were spread. But at distances of less than 6 feet, enough droplets to potentially cause illness still made it through several of the materials.


The device used by researchers to study how masks block simulated respiratory droplets carrying the COVID-19 virus.

 CREDIT: Javed Akhtar
“A mask definitely helps, but if the people are very close to each other, there is still a chance of spreading or contracting the virus,” said Krishna Kota, an associate professor at New Mexico State University and one of the article’s authors. “It’s not just masks that will help. It’s both the masks and distancing.”

At the university, researchers built a machine that uses an air generator to mimic human coughs and sneezes. The generator was used to blow tiny liquid particles, like the airborne droplets of sneezes and coughs, through laser sheets in an airtight square tube with a camera.

They blocked the flow of the droplets in the tube with five different types of mask materials — a regular cloth mask, a two-layer cloth mask, a wet two-layer cloth mask, a surgical mask, and a medical-grade N-95 mask.

Each of the masks captured the vast majority of droplets, ranging from the regular cloth mask, which allowed about 3.6% of the droplets to go through, to the N-95 mask, which statistically stopped 100% of the droplets. But at distances of less than 6 feet, even those small percentages of droplets can be enough to get someone sick, especially if a person with COVID-19 sneezes or coughs multiple times.

A single sneeze can carry up to 200 million tiny virus particles, depending on how sick the carrier is. Even if a mask blocks a huge percentage of those particles, enough could escape to get someone sick if that person is close to the carrier.

“Without a face mask, it is almost certain that many foreign droplets will transfer to the susceptible person,” Kota said. “Wearing a mask will offer substantial, but not complete, protection to a susceptible person by decreasing the number of foreign airborne sneeze and cough droplets that would otherwise enter the person without the mask. Consideration must be given to minimize or avoid close face-to-face or frontal human interactions, if possible.”

The study also did not account for leakage from masks, whether worn properly or improperly, which can add to the number of droplets that make their way into the air.

From the Journal: Physics of Fluids
Link to article: Can face masks offer protection from airborne sneeze and cough droplets in close-up, face-to-face human interactions? A quantitative study
DOI: 10.1063/5.0035072

Contacts and sources: 

American Institute of Physics

Publication: Can face masks offer protection from airborne sneeze and cough droplets in close-up, face-to-face human interactions?—A quantitative study.
Javed Akhtar, Abner Luna Garcia, Leonardo Saenz, Sarada Kuravi, Fangjun Shu, Krishna Kota. Physics of Fluids, 2020; 32 (12): 127112 DOI: 10.1063/5.0035072



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    Total 3 comments
    • HTLIII

      If nearly 100% of the tests are false positives, it is impossible to say anything about the virulence of any perfect vacuum. No COVID-19 virus detectable means no COVID-19 virus.

    • DON ROBER>to

      [““Simply wearing a mask may not be enough to prevent the spread of COVID-19 without social distancing”This lonesome sentence is absolutely proven bullshit. To wear a mask is SELFTOXIFICATION !!! They know it, but do not take over any responsibility of this Order !!! YOU did, not “ WE” To wear a MASK has nothing to do with a FLU in your ears, you have to believe, you like it or not. It’s a simple Communisme strategic re-education program to bring the People via the FEAR-BUSINESS on their CCP-Lines. Be SOCIAL or UN.SOCIAL. Be a DO_GOODER or a THING, which needs to be punished. Talk with Chinese People, they tell ya, how CCP is working. Social DISTANCING is a pre-training-education, to install the biometrical observation technology with 5G in every corner the AllSeying Eyes, they sell this as PublicSafetySafteyFirst. Security is Business. “CoVID19 “ the small “o” is the key. Certificate of Vaccination IDentification BOND. A=1 9=I The CHIP plus mRNA/DNA manipulation for their depopulationprogram. What they urgently need is your WILL !!!! VACCINE ME !!! GET_TEH_FLU_SHOT….so the push the entire responsibilities of side-effects and bad risks on your shoulders of this dirty private commercial business. Terms of Trades. Because they neve ever will take over any personal unlimited liability and responsibility of all the terrible long-term side-effects and impact on your organism. So help to prevent to spread of this dangerous VACCINE-FRAUD, say no or ask for a written hand signed attest, that those who are injecting, take over all risks and responsibilities out of that PsychoTerror Act. Its WAR—The BIO-Weapon, a Big BUSINESS against Humanity and all God Given Rights. Say NO !!! Prove it. !!! “]

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