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North Carolina remains in Phase 2 and we’re still required to wear face coverings in public to prevent the spread of COVID-19. But what kind of mask are you wearing? As it turns out, I’ve been wearing the worst possible kind.

According to the New York Post, researchers at Duke University tested 14 different types of masks to find out which do the best job and discovered that not all protective masks are all that protective. Overall, they found that the N95 masks are the best at stopping the transmission of respiratory droplets during regular speech. Three-layer surgical masks and cotton masks are also effective.

The Duke University tests found that bandanas and knitted face coverings don’t offer the greatest protection. Here’s where I’ve been going wrong. The research showed that neck gaiters or neck fleeces are least effective, and actually allow more droplets to escape than not wearing a mask at all. I’ve been wearing neck gaiters for months! Looks like it’s time for me to go mask shopping.

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Face protection from first to worst (according to Duke University)

  • N95 mask (BEST)
  • Three-layer surgical mask
  • Cotton mask
  • Bandana
  • Knitted face covering
  • Neck gaiter/neck fleece (WORST)