Doctor demonstrates how face mask blocks respiratory droplets from spreading

SPOKANE, Wash. -- As the novel coronavirus surges amid hasty re-openings in states across the U.S., some state officials have ordered residents to wear masks in public, and one medical expert’s widely-shared Twitter thread demonstrates the effectiveness of wearing a facial covering amid a pandemic.

Dr. Richard Davis demonstrates various actions like singing and coughing to show how a face mask blocks respiratory droplets from spreading. (FILE - Dr. Richard Davis demonstrates various actions like singing and coughing to show how a face mask bloc

Photograph of Dr. Rich Davis demonstrating how social distancing with a face mask impacts the spread of respiratory droplets.

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“They would all do something. But would they be equally effective at blocking all droplets or aerosolizations? No,” said Davis.

Government officials in several states took action Monday, ordering residents to wear masks in public in a dramatic course reversal amid an alarming resurgence of coronavirus cases nationwide.

In New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy announced that he’s postponing the restarting of indoor dining because people have not been wearing face masks or complying with recommendations for social distancing.

Democratic governors in Oregon and Kansas said Monday that they would require people to wear masks. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown’s order will require people to wear face coverings in indoor public spaces starting Wednesday. Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly said she will issue an executive order mandating the use of masks in stores and shops, restaurants, and in any situation where social distancing of 6 feet cannot be maintained, including outside. The order goes into effect Friday.

As the U.S. surpasses 120,000 deaths from the novel coronavirus, wearing a face mask, which many medical experts urge as one of the best lines of defense against the highly contagious virus, has increasingly become politicized.

The pushback on wearing a mask has been repeatedly stoked by President Donald Trump, who has routinely refused to wear any form of facial covering in public, while downplaying the threat of the virus and insisting, contrary to evidence, that “it’s fading away, it’s going to fade away.”

But Davis argues against the politicization of wearing a facial covering.

“I don’t think anyone in health care or public health, or just people who want to be socially conscious in the middle of this pandemic, are happy about the politicization of masks,” he said. “The more everyone can encourage mask use, correct misinformation about mask wearing, and make them available, the better.”

Davis said that for people who complain of discomfort or difficulty breathing while wearing a mask, there are other protective options.

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“Masks can be uncomfortable, even when you are less accustomed to wearing them,” Davis said. “Just ask health care workers and lab personnel who are wearing masks all day. People with disabilities, or who experience breathing issues or discomfort could consider a clear plastic face shield which can also act as a barrier to droplets, not obscure your face, and may be easier to clean and reuse than a mask.”

The Associated Press contributed to this story. This story was reported from Los Angeles.