Today, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control
(DHEC) shared updated data that shows communities with mask requirement
ordinances in place continue to see a slower rate of disease spread
compared to communities without mask requirements.
“The data continues to reinforce what we’ve already known about proper wearing of masks and their success in helping to stop the spread of this deadly virus,” said Dr. Brannon Traxler, DHEC physician. “Wearing a mask every day in public is critical, however, not all face coverings provide the same protection. A recent study by Duke University shows that neck gaiters may be among the least effective types of face coverings for preventing the spread of respiratory droplets.”
Neck gaiters are circular fabric tubes designed to be slipped on over the head, worn around the neck and pulled up over the mouth and nose. The Duke University study observed a high respiratory droplet count that passed through the neck gaiter tested in the study, although it is important to note that the effectiveness of neck gaiters can depend on the quality of material they’re made from.
“A close-fitting face mask can be made from common household fabrics and can be very effective in preventing spread of the virus while also providing comfort and breathability,” Traxler said. “We should regularly wash our reusable masks and properly dispose of temporary-use masks when they begin to show signs of wear.”
While surgical grade N95 respirators provide the highest level of protection against the COVID-19, a close-fitting cloth mask made of cotton, polyester, polypropylene or cellulose can provide the best protection and the most breathability. Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not recommend masks that have an exhalation valve or vent.
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