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Which face masks are best for preventing COVID-19? A new study has some answers

Quilt cotton beats the bandana, according to the study

People wear masks as they walk on Main Street in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, June 24, 2020.
People wear masks as they walk on Main Street in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, June 24, 2020.
Steve Griffin, Deseret News

A new study from Florida Atlantic University suggests a number of face masks might be more effective in preventing COVID-19 than others, offering guidance for those in search of a proper face covering.

What’s going on:

Researchers at Florida Atlantic University experimented with different material and style of masks to see how well they protect against COVID-19. The researchers used nonmedical masks for the study.

Masks made with two layers of quality fabric proved to had the best results in stopping the spread of droplets from coughing and sneezing.

Researchers compared a loose homemade masks — like you could make from T-shirt and handkerchief, as well as bandana-style masks and cone-style commercial masks you can buy at pharmacies, according to CNN.

Here’s the breakdown, according to WFLA:

  • Uncovered coughs and sneezes traveled more than 8 feet.
  • Droplets from a bandana-covered cough traveled 3 feet.
  • Droplets from a handkerchief traveled 1 foot, 3 inches
  • Droplets from a cone-style masks traveled 8 inches.
  • Droplets from stitch-quilted fabrics traveled 2.5 inches.

What this means:

Siddhartha Verma, an assistant professor at the department of ocean and mechanical engineering at Florida Atlantic University and author of the study, said these findings represent a chance for people to find the right masks.

  • “While there are a few prior studies on the effectiveness of medical-grade equipment, we don’t have a lot of information about the cloth-based coverings that are most accessible to us at present.”
  • “Our hope is that the visualizations presented in the paper help convey the rationale behind the recommendations for social distancing and using face masks.”