Are Neck Gaiters So Bad They Spread COVID-19 Instead Of Prevent?
Depending on who you read, and which study they read, and how they decided to word it, maybe.
Here's how it all started, in a study funded by Duke University. They wanted to get to the bottom of which mask or alternative did the best job at protecting people. So they tested 14 popular masks or masks alternatives, one patch of mask material, and a professionally fit-tested N95 mask. Obviously the N95 mask did the best, that's what it was made for.
The Washinton Post said the study found that some cotton cloth masks were as good at professional masks, while the popular neck gaiters were found to be thin and in some of the testing were found to be worse than not wearing a mask. So, that's how it started.
USA Today went a step further and said most cotton masks had more protection because most homemade cotton masks also included a way to slide a filter in them, or were made with many layers to protect the wearer. That neck gaiters did not protect the wearer at all.
Keep in mind the test that was performed used a box, a mask, and a cell phone in order to collect data. There were several other controls in the test but is was very simple. The test was supported by other doctors who checked the data. The data showed that neck gaiters did allow some of the germs through the neck gaiter that was not providing enough coverage that keeping the mask off would provide.
There it is. Next, some clever media person said, the neck gaiter is worse than not wearing a mask at all. Actually, it was a little more wordy, like the headline Yahoo! used, "Neck gaiters may actually increase COVID-19 transmission, study finds", and everyone ran with it.
The part everyone missed, BUFFUSA, the company that makes the face gaiters put up a disclaimer saying they didn't make them to be a proven face mask. It's some of the companies selling them that made the claim that they are a mask.
So are they worse than not wearing a mask? Maybe, but they aren't made to be a mask to prevent COVID-19.