A new study found that wearing neck gaiters may spread COVID-19 more than wearing no mask at all. But that thinner, stretchier fabric potentially contributes to a greater spread of virus-containing respiratory droplets.
The problem with the neck gaiters is that their thin and porous fabric might actually be breaking up bigger respiratory droplets into many little ones that are more likely to hang around in the air longer.
"The neck gaiter that we tested did essentially nothing, and worse than nothing, because it appeared to make large droplets into small droplets", Isaac Henrion, the study's co-author, told CBS News.
"These neck gaiters are extremely common in a lot of places because they're very convenient to wear", Warren S. Warren, a professor of physics, chemistry, radiology, and biomedical engineering at Duke, told The Washington Post.
Aerosols are a type of droplet that is made when people cough, sneeze or talk. Henrion described an aerosol's path like that of a paper airplane flying through the air and getting caught on currents that are invisible to the naked eye.
Duke's study focused on droplet production while talking, as opposed to coughing or sneezing, because research has shown that more than half the people infected with COVID-19 do not have symptoms, and therefore are generally not coughing or sneezing, according to Henrion.
Prather said that if you inhale tiny aerosols, these go deep into your lungs and can bypass your immune system, which is why some cases do not show any symptoms at first.
The results reported were expected in one instance - droplets were less than 0.1 per cent using an N95 mask - to seeing droplets actually increase unexpectedly when using a gaiter style fleece mask. The extent to which aerosols may carry the coronavirus is still being researched, but evidence suggests they play a role.
Henrion said that talking is the way that asymptomatic transmission happens.
Since the CDC and the World Health Organization announced that wearing cloth masks and face coverings are effective in preventing the spread of COVID-19, all sorts of masks have come onto the market but new research shows that not all face coverings are created equal.
In a development that could bring smiles on the face of people who are using the N95 masks, the study has found that the N95 masks without the attached valves are most effective in blocking the micro particles of the virus, according to a report by the Indian Express.
Global coronavirus infections have doubled in just six weeks and climbed past 20 million, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. "However, we expect that there are variations of performance for different masks (even of the same type), and different users wearing identical masks".
The United States has the most cases, with almost 5.2 million confirmed infections and more than 164,000 deaths.
Which mask offers the best protection? The third and fourth spot was retained by the polypropylene masks- the cotton-polypropylene mask and the two-layer polypropylene apron mask.
The researchers said their testing system was "MacGyvered', but it was still effective". "There's a segment of this category that's of a much higher quality that's engineered to be layered".