While it shouldn't have been ever the case, face masks have become a controversial topic as everything does where humanity is concerned.
From people refusing to wear masks in public places to those who use it incorrectly by covering only their mouths, noses, or bizarrely their eyes, there have been tremendous amounts of misinformation floating around the internet about them and scientists and medical professionals have been trying their best to stop that on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Microbiologist Rich Davis was one of those who hopped onto Twitter to demonstrate how putting on masks can halt the spread of respiratory droplets significantly.
What does a mask do? Blocks respiratory droplets coming from your mouth and throat.— Rich Davis, PhD, D(ABMM), MLS 🦠🔬🧫 (@richdavisphd) June 26, 2020
Two simple demos:
First, I sneezed, sang, talked & coughed toward an agar culture plate with or without a mask. Bacteria colonies show where droplets landed. A mask blocks virtually all of them. pic.twitter.com/ETUD9DFmgU
Masked vs. No Mask On
His demonstration was quite straightforward: Dr. Davis sneezed, sang, talked, and coughed while he had agar cultures near his face, he had a standard surgical mask on for some, and for some, he did not.
Once the cultures were left to grow the bacteria his respiratory droplets carried, the results were striking. Wherever droplets and bacteria from his mouth landed, you see the bacteria colony that is in great numbers and partying like there's no tomorrow; however, in those where he was wearing a mask, they are nowhere to be seen.
What about keeping a distance?
While he was at it, he also demonstrated how keeping a distance affects the spread of droplets. From the distances of two feet, four feet, and six feet from the culture plates, Dr. Davis coughed hard for 15 seconds with and without a mask.
The results as you'd guess were pretty explanatory.
What about keeping your distance?— Rich Davis, PhD, D(ABMM), MLS 🦠🔬🧫 (@richdavisphd) June 26, 2020
Second demo: I set open bacteria culture plates 2, 4 and 6 feet away and coughed (hard) for ~15s. I repeated this without a mask.
As seen by number of bacteria colonies, droplets mostly landed <6 ft, but a mask blocked nearly all of them. pic.twitter.com/8wDdvIHHMa
This is a demonstration, not an experiment
Dr. Davis stated that his demonstration isn't likely to show the difference between mask types, and since COVID-19 is a virus, not a bacteria, this wasn't an experiment, just a demonstration, BuzzFeed reported.
However, the CDC has long stated that COVID-19 spreads mainly through respiratory droplets. We can infer that a mask would very likely block these droplets that carry the viral load while this demonstration doesn't directly prove that.
In light of this information, Dr. Davis urged the use of face masks saying, "We wash hands after using the bathroom & wipe noses on tissues. Masks/face shields need to be just another normalized act of hygiene."