MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Mayo Clinic is releasing pre-published data that it says confirms the critical role masks play in preventing COVID-19 infection.
On Tuesday, the Mayo Clinic said it is releasing the new, unpublished data on masking efficacy to “help highlight the importance of masking and social distancing” as Thanksgiving approaches.
According to Mayo Clinic, the findings “strongly support” the importance of widespread mask use and maintaining physical distance to stop the spread of COVID-19.
“This was an experimental study where we emulated the production of respiratory droplets by using mannequins, that were masked and other mannequins that were unmasked and measured the spread of those droplets at various distances,” said Elie Berbari, M.D., chair of the department of infectious diseases at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.
Researchers then measured how effectively masks blocked the number of aerosol particles from a masked source — simulating an individual with COVID-19 infection. They also simulated the risk of an individual contracting COVID-19 when masked.
“We found the most important measure for reducing the risk of exposure to COVID-19 is to wear a mask,” says Matthew Callstrom, M.D., Ph.D., chair of the department of radiology at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. “We found that both disposable paper medical masks and two-layer cloth masks were effective in reducing droplet transmission and we did not find a difference between mask types in terms of how well they blocked aerosol particles emitted by the wearer.”
The study also found physical separation reduces exposure of respiratory droplets and that 3 feet is helpful, but 6 feet of separation reduces particle counts to near baseline levels.
“The most common mechanism for COVID-19 transmission is through respiratory droplets which are larger than aerosols and are more easily blocked with masks,” Callstrom said.
Rochester, Minnesota is home to the flagship campus of the Mayo Clinic, and is frequently regarded as one of America’s best hospitals.
Source: CBS Minnesota