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There is no evidence to support that wearing a face mask will protect you from COVID-19. You should still avoid touching your face, washing your hands frequently for 20 seconds using warm water and soap and practice social distancing.
Sure, it’s hard to argue with any face cloth covering being better than not wearing one at all, but the truth is that some protective gear has proven to be more effective than others when it comes to preventing the spread of COVID-19.
While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approve of and highly recommend the use of traditional non-medical masks over alternatives, like face shields, when out in public spaces, new research on one option that has been undergoing evaluation and scrutiny over the past few months has recently emerged.
In a study conducted by the University of Georgia that has not yet been published, researchers put the preventive measures of neck gaiters against respiratory droplets to the test by using a 3D-printed box that was designed to reduce air particles, a Class 1000 clean room and a laser. The researchers had an adult male subject wear Amazon’s four bestselling two-layer cloth face masks, five of the top single-layer neck gaiters and three multi-layer gaiters from Mission. Each face covering was tested three times.
The results found that gaiters with one layer provided a 77 per cent average reduction in respiratory droplets compared with wearing no face mask while gaiters made up of two or three layers (polyester and spandex) provided a 96 per cent reduction in respiratory droplets. Two-layer face masks also reported providing an 81 per cent reduction in respiratory droplets.
The initial overblown case was that neck gaiters may be worse than going maskless. Suraj Sharma, a professor of polymer, fibre and textile sciences at the University of Georgia, and co-author of the latest study, tells Yahoo Life that he wanted to study neckwarmer-like scarf to clear up misconceptions about the face coverings.
“There has been a tremendous amount of conflicting information put out in recent months on face coverings, leading many people to believe that gaiters provide little to no protection, relative to masks,” he says. “This didn’t make sense to us. The type of material and number of layers should determine the efficacy of a face covering more so than the form factor. We wanted to put that thesis to the test.”
Sharma and co-author Tho Nguyen, a fellow professor at the University of Georgia, say, “It was clear from the results that whether a face cover loops behind your ears like a mask or goes around your head like a gaiter, the reduction in respiratory droplets is driven by the material and the number of layers used, rather than the form factor of a mask or gaiter.”
According to the CDC, acceptable masks should be made with two or more layers of fabric (preferably cotton) to stop the spread of COVID-19.
While this new research may change the rep of neck gaiters, there are some important dos and don’ts to keep in mind when selecting a face covering. It is recommended that your mask should have the following criteria:
two layers or more of washable and breathable fabric
completely cover your nose and mouth
fit snuggly against the sides of your face without gapping
It should be noted that the CDC does not approve of completely see-through, vinyl masks, masks with valves and vents that allow particles to escape and masks intended for healthcare workers, including N9 respirators and surgical masks.
To help you shop for the right mask, we did the research for you and handpicked masks that are sure to keep you safe.
SHOP IT: Gap, $24
SHOP IT: Frank and Oak, $24
SHOP IT: Under Armour, $45
SHOP IT: Amazon, $15
SHOP IT: Everlane, $38
SHOP IT: Athleta, $30
SHOP IT: Masqd, $65
SHOP IT: Arc'teryx, $50