Why Are Masks Effective? Which Ones Work The Best?


Sophia Bowman

As of 2020, Covid-19 has become a massive issue in the U.S. People have to stay safe—masks are the most common way. But why do people need masks? Do they really help? Well, there is a science behind it. Covid-19 can be spread from person to person contact. In order to prevent the disease from spreading through contact, a mask is used to block the virus. The mask is worn over the mouth and nose to block the main airways from collecting the virus and potentially giving it to someone else. However, some individuals have not taken this caution. This is causing more of a spread of the virus. For instance, in recent studies of the CDC they have found that if the Covid-19 carrier is not wearing a mask, but the other person in the room is, the other person has a 70% chance of that person getting the virus. That is a huge risk, but now if the Covid-19 carrier is wearing a mask and the other person is not, it is a 5% chance of that person getting the virus. Moreover, if both the carrier and the other person are wearing a mask, there is a 1.5% chance of getting the virus. That’s really how much of a difference a mask can make. Just the slightest bit of caution during this virus can make a difference. Of course other things like face shields and gloves can be added, but the mask is the simplest and most protective. Just wearing a mask. It’s really that easy. 

However, people must wear the right masks or it would be like wearing no masks at all. Well, the most effective masks are N95 masks. These are the masks most commonly used by doctors and professionals that could be or are exposed. With this mask, it is very unlikely that the virus could be transmitted. The next masks that are less effective, but still work include polypropylene masks. These masks are sometimes homemade, but still work very well considering the virus that is easily spread. After this mask comes the cotton masks. These masks are most commonly used for everyday and are very convenient. They are also a benefit for exercise and activities. Surprisingly, there are more masks that are not as effective as they seem. Although the N95 mask is the most effective, the exhalation valve on the side of the N95 then makes this mask one of the least effective. The virus can spread easier through this mask, especially because there is more of an opening. As of recent studies, it has shown that wearing a bandana mask from home is not very effective at all when in the beginning of Covid-19, this was shown as a benefit. But, the most shocking news is that wearing no mask at all is more effective than wearing a neck gaiter mask. This mask is 0% effective and can actually harm a person more than help. When a person is wearing this mask, the mask keeps the air with the virus and stays long enough to infect the person. Not wearing a mask at all allows for more movement. So clearly, choosing the right mask to wear is difficult. As long as individuals understand why masks are helpful and what they wear, they can prevent this virus. Really, the best thing to do is wear a mask; especially over the mouth and nose.