A scientist’s tweet is going viral for proving how effective masks are at preventing the spread of COVID-19. Dr. Rich Davis, a Clinical Microbiology Lab Director at Providence Sacred Heart, conducted a simple demonstration where he coughed and sneezed when he was wearing a mask and when he was not, and analyzed how much bacteria spread through those activities.
Davis sneezed, sung, talked, and coughed to see how much bacteria was blocked by a face mask.
The results were astonishing and easy to visualize.
The face mask blocked almost all of the bacteria that could have spread. Sneezing and coughing posed the largest risk of spreading bacteria, and wearing a mask made the biggest difference for those actions.
Davis followed up with a second demonstration to test how effective social distancing is. He placed the culture plates 2, 4, and 6 feet away from him, and coughed for 15 seconds with and without a mask.
The results showed that both wearing a mask and social distancing are effective ways to stay healthy. When wearing a mask, only the plate 2 feet away had any bacteria on it, and it was an extremely small amount.
When Davis wasn’t wearing a mask, all plates had bacteria on them. However, while the plates 2 and 4 feet away had sizeable amounts of bacteria on them, the plate 6 feet away had almost none.
Davis clarified the bacteria were “only meant to be a proxy for microbes present in respiratory droplets.” While the mask obviously blocked much of the bacteria, a virus could travel further and stay in the air longer. But large respiratory droplets, the kind Davis tested that come from coughing and sneezing, are the main way COVID-19 spreads.
People were impressed with the results, and loved the simple visuals. Many shared the thread, and encouraged their followers to wear masks.
“Science can be complicated, this is not. Masks work,” one user tweeted.
“Pandemics don’t care about your politics. Don’t put feels over reals,” another user said.
Davis also shared a thread by a pediatrician, debunking the myth that wearing masks interferes with oxygen levels.
Though Davis does not consider this a repeated “experiment,” the demonstration shows that wearing face masks is a simple and effective way to prevent the spread of COVID-19.