LOS ANGELES -- Despite the lengths some have been willing to go to in order to protest against state policies that demand residents wear masks in public, some anti-maskers who previously refused to wear facial coverings are apparently deciding to wear face masks that offer no actual protection from respiratory droplets that can help spread a virus the COVID-19.
One video shared by Dailymotion appeared to show a man leaving a Florida Walmart wearing a mesh mask with holes exposing his mouth.
The man said he purposely wore the mask to prove that a recent face mask rule mandated in the county he lives in is “not about safety.”
The man compared the county commissioner that enforced the mask rule to Hitler, saying, “If I sneeze, if I cough, if I talk, if I spit, anything I do is going to come right through this mask.”
“It’s not about safety, it’s just about compliance,” he added.
A photo on Twitter showed a woman wearing a similar mesh mask.
“While there are Counties requiring masks in public; NO law requires a specific type or particulate rating of mask. The general public are making their own masks including open mesh. No fines have been issued while wearing them in public. This is about compliance, not safety,” the user wrote.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends wearing a cloth face covering while in public to help combat the spread of COVID-19, especially in settings where social distancing measures can be difficult to maintain.
Research also shows that the material of your mask matters.
Scientists at the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center evaluated approximately 400 masks made by community volunteers in order to find which, if any, masks worked as well as N95 respirators or any other medical-grade surgical masks.
After careful analysis of each mask, researchers found that the best homemade masks achieved 79 percent filtration, compared to N95 masks which achieve 97 percent.
While there are relatively few specific guidelines pertaining to mask materials and designs, a new study from Florida Atlantic University, titled “Physics of Fluids,” found which types of masks offer the best protection against the novel coronavirus.
Researcher Siddhartha Verma and his team experimented with different choices in material and design to “determine how well face masks block droplets as they exit the mouth,” the study explained.
“We tested actually three homemade masks and one off-the-shelf commercial mask,” Verma said.
The researchers found that well-fitted homemade masks with multiple layers of quilting cotton offered the best protection. These masks significantly reduced the number of droplets, according to their findings.
“If you take a look at the fabric, the individual threads are relatively thick, and all of it is very tightly woven together,” Verma said. “That’s why it was able to stop the droplets from spreading out too far.”
Bandanna-style coverings and loosely-folded face masks reduced the distance traveled by droplets from between 25% to 50% of that for an uncovered cough.
Yet the use of a face mask as coronavirus cases rise around the globe has been at the center of widespread myths and conspiracy theories as many people continue to refuse to wear them.
Some have argued that wearing a face mask makes it harder to breathe, or lowers oxygen levels — another theory that has been debunked my medical experts.
Dr. Maitiu O Tuathail, a doctor based in Dublin, shared on Twitter that patients repeatedly ask him whether masks affect oxygen levels. He performed a demonstration to debunk the myth, measuring his oxygen levels after putting six surgical masks over his face.
“Face coverings / masks don’t reduce your oxygen levels,” O Tuathail said. “I managed to get six masks on and it has no effect on my oxygen levels.”
CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield said Tuesday if all Americans wore a mask it could bring the COVID-19 pandemic under control in weeks.
“I think the data is clearly there, that masking works — whether it’s a face covering, whether it’s a simple surgical mask,” Redfield said.