Scientist's 'Contamination' Experiment Proves Why Masks Are Still So Damn Important

"To be frank, this experiment disgusted us – and that's kind of the point."

Scientist's 'Contamination' Experiment Proves Why Masks Are Still So Damn Important

Photo: Thomas Jackson/Stone via Getty Images

In a perverse turn of events, the United States has become the epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic, while China seems to be bouncing back. Whilst most countries seem to be ‘flattening the curve’, things don’t seem to be getting any better in America – hundreds are dying every day.

Americans, particularly those on the conservative side of politics, have an almost self-defeating obsession with personal freedoms. Thousands of Americans have forgone social distancing measures and refuse to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) like face masks or rubber gloves because they don’t like the inconvenience (or being told what to do). And America’s paying the price: there are over 2.5 million cases in continental USA alone.

Australia’s not immune to this attitude either. Melbourne’s seen a huge spike in coronavirus cases recently due to social isolation breaches, i.e. people not observing social distancing or properly wearing PPE. International flights into the city have been cancelled for the next fortnight to help curb the state’s high infection rate, and a number of hotspot suburbs have been completely locked down, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.

We get it – no-one wants to wear a face mask. Thankfully, most people aren’t so selfish and just deal with what’s really quite a minor inconvenience.

For those of you still on the fence, an American scientist recently shared a basic experiment which proves how useful PPE is in preventing the proliferation of disease, and why it’s still so important to wear a mask.

Dr. Rich Davis, a microbiologist from Washington state, shared this ‘simple demo’ in order to demonstrate how effective masks are at stopping respiratory droplets.

When you cough, sneeze or even speak, you’re basically aerosolising bacteria or viruses. It’s why it’s so important to cover your mouth when you sneeze: if you don’t, it’s like you’re firing a shotgun round of germs into the air.

Davis followed up his initial tweet with a disclaimer:

“I’m aware that this simple (n=1) demo isn’t how you culture viruses or model spread of SARS-CoV-2. But colonies of normal bacteria from my mouth/throat show the spread of large respiratory droplets, like the kind we think mostly spread COVID-19, and how a mask can block them!”

To be frank, this experiment disgusted us – and that’s kind of the point. Masks are an effective tool in containing the spread of disease, and you’d be a fool to not wear one if you live in a coronavirus hotspot.

But masks are only one piece of the puzzle. Social distancing; making sure you’re regularly and properly washing your hands; working from home and avoiding unnecessary travel; supporting your immune system by eating well and exercising… These are all important (and easy) steps we can all take to prevent the proliferation of this awful virus.

Stay clean, gents.

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