The Triple Crown on Mask Effectiveness against COVID-19 Transmission

While men of politics have devalued science by wavering in their answers on masks over the last several months, PROPER science has never wavered: Masks for all? The science says yes.

One of the key meta-studies of most available hard-science, peer-reviewed research: Face Masks Against COVID-19: An Evidence Review:

A primary route of transmission of COVID-19 is likely via respiratory droplets, and is known to be transmissible from presymptomatic and asymptomatic individuals. Reducing disease spread requires two things: first, limit contacts of infected individuals via physical distancing and other measures, and second, reduce the transmission probability per contact. The preponderance of evidence indicates that mask wearing reduces the transmissibility per contact by reducing transmission of infected droplets in both laboratory and clinical contexts. Public mask wearing is most effective at reducing spread of the virus when compliance is high.

Howard, J.; Huang, A.; Li, Z.; Tufekci, Z.; Zdimal, V.; van der Westhuizen, H.; von Delft, A.; Price, A.; Fridman, L.; Tang, L.; Tang, V.; Watson, G.L.; Bax, C.E.; Shaikh, R.; Questier, F.; Hernandez, D.; Chu, L.F.; Ramirez, C.M.; Rimoin, A.W. Face Masks Against COVID-19: An Evidence Review. Preprints 2020, 2020040203 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202004.0203.v2).

Particle sizes for mask filtration explains WHY cloth masks stop the spread of droplets containing the virus. You can review their explanation (which is excellent) or you can think of it this way: If the virus were the size of a football, the droplet containing the virus is the size of a football stadium. Cloth masks are akin to the size of the gridiron. Their gaps are much larger than the football, but far smaller than the stadium, and since the footballs are always contained in the stadium… The gaps in cloth masks are larger than the virus but much smaller than the droplets containing the virus. The virus is not shed independent of the droplets and cannot survive outside the droplets. Furthermore, the droplets are from mucosa, not water. While they do evaporate, there’s a significant volume of solids (mucous) which prevent the droplet from shrinking below a certain volume. Think of it as a “micro-booger.” Therefore, it will always be many times larger than the virus itself, and because of its size, stickiness, and other factors, masks remain effective.

This boils down into three decisions:

  1. You want to minimize the exposure to others
  2. You want to maximize the exposure to others
  3. You don’t care about anyone but yourself

If you answered #3, then you’re also guilty — knowingly or unknowingly — of negligence with respect to #2.

Other repeatedly cite older studies, “proving masks don’t work against colds or the flu, so why should anyone think it works against the coronavirus?”

It’s not that masks don’t work against colds or the flu. They do, but not well, as the mucous in cold and flu victims is thin and watery. Thus, the mucous droplets — “globules” — are small and evaporate quickly. Thus, masks aren’t as effective against colds or flu as they are against coronavirus, where the mucous is both thicker and much more sticky. In fact, this was clearly revealed in a very recent study of aerosol science comparing the differences between mask effectiveness against rhinovirus, influenza and coronavirus:

aerosol science
Leung, N.H.L., Chu, D.K.W., Shiu, E.Y.C. et al. Respiratory virus shedding in exhaled breath and efficacy of face masks. Nat Med 26, 676–680 (2020).

Another source of confusion is that most people have never studied physics, particularly the interaction of forces at scales ranging from the atomic to the microscopic, which is the realm in which masks actually work. They’re not merely physical screens and mosquitoes. There’s a whole lot more going on at the microscopic level than a simple screen. For example:

In molecular physics, the van der Waals force, named after Dutch scientist Johannes Diderik van der Waals, is a distance-dependent interaction between atoms or molecules. Unlike ionic or covalent bonds, these attractions do not result from a chemical electronic bond; they are comparatively weak and therefore more susceptible to disturbance. The van der Waals force quickly vanishes at longer distances between interacting molecules. Van der Waals force plays a fundamental role in fields as diverse as supramolecular chemistry, structural biology, polymer science, nanotechnology, surface science, and condensed matter physics.”

You may respond with a thousand different reasons as to why masks don’t work. Here’s one of the more common, if not the most ignorant meme I’ve seen online, including today:

Yes, people still say this, a lot. I’m having difficulty believing people are THAT ignorant, but apparently, they really are as ignorant of basic aerosol science as Wilbur and Orville Wright’s naysayers were of basic aerodynamics.

Nothing, however was more hilarious than one gentleman’s comment with respect to particle sizes: “passing [sic] gas and see if you can smell it through a mask if you can smell it then you don’t think that covid-19 can get through”

Aerosolized mucosa containing the SARS-CoV-2 virus average 2,000 times larger than the gas molecules you smell in your farts.

Let’s put this into perspective: Your hand is six inches across. If your fart molecules were the size of your hand, the aerosolized mucous containing the SARS-CoV-2 virus would cover 1 million square feet of land.

That’s 23 acres.

Thus, comments like “passing gas and see if you can smell it through a mask if you can smell it then you don’t think that covid-19 can get through” merely underscore the individual’s ignorance. Even the finest brains in the world are utterly useless without a basic understanding of relative size.

UT Southwestern Medical Center’s article fully addresses the issue of COVID-19 and mask confusion: Separating myths from realities. They list the most common reasons for not wearing masks cited by anti-maskers and blow their arguments apart with clear and concise answers, along with links to more exhaustive research. Meanwhile, this article explores why anti-maskers are so damned foolish.

Finally, the Fact Check: Test Does NOT Show Face Masks Cause Oxygen Levels To Drop Into The ‘Danger Zone’ page was published by the manufacturer of the test equipment cited in the thoroughly debunked video claiming various gas levels behind a mask, thoroughly debunks that misleading video. The simple fact that anti-maskers would lie about the issue, fabricating false evidence in an attempt to deceive others, clearly demonstrates they’re not at all concerned about the truth, but rather, their only concern is their own discomfort or inconvenience, and that they’re willing to risk the lives of many others for invariably selfish reasons. At best, the only evidence they’ve been able to offer is anecdotal.

As an aside, here’s a word on herd immunity from What is Herd Immunity and How Can We Achieve It With COVID-19?

As with any other infection, there are two ways to achieve herd immunity: A large proportion of the population either gets infected or gets a protective vaccine. Based on early estimates of this virus’s infectiousness, we will likely need at least 70% of the population to be immune to have herd protection.

D’Souza, G. and Dowdy, D. (April 10, 2020). What is herd immunity and how can we achieve it with COVID-19? Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. Retrieved from:

Put simply, if a 7.98% infection rate results in 136,621 deaths (as of July 11, 2020), achieving a 70% infection rate will result in 1.33 million deaths. Obviously, vaccines are vastly preferred to actually contracting deadly diseases, as the medical expenses for the 1 in 10 people who contract COVID-19 and develop severe symptoms soars into the many tens of thousands of dollars.

Finally, I’ll leave you with two highly informative videos. Observe how dramatic an impact is made when everyone simply wears masks.

Preface to Exponential Growth and Epidemics video: “While this video uses COVID-19 as a motivating example, the main goal is simply a math lesson on exponentials and logistic curves.” That said, understanding this concept is critical for understanding the second video:

Preface to Simulating an Epidemic: This tool is exceptional for demonstrating and understanding the various techniques used to mitigate the spread of infectious diseases. Take notes on the Key Takeaways, as they’re vital as inputs into any legislation.


Yes, COVID-19 is absolutely deadly, but only for those who’re elderly or immunocompromised. If you wipe the sweat off your brow at this point and say, “Whew! I ain’t affected, so I ain’t wearing no mask!” you ought to be shot. Such incredibly selfish attitudes serve no good and cause much harm — including death — in any society, which renders such attitudes murderous. You are less than human scum, fit only for cleaning cesspools without protective equipment, no better than any rapist, pedophile, murderer or other hardened criminal serving 20 to life in prison.

Fortunately, the majority of good Americans have not adopted such a DAMNED STUPID position. Instead, they’re honestly seeking more information from reliable, scientifically-acccurate sources. No one (well, almost no one) wants to kill someone’s grandma. Thus, when the learn that homemade cloth masks are more than 90% effective at stopping the spread of the disease beyond a person who is infected but doesn’t know it. They also learn that once virus-laden droplets spread beyond an infected individual, they quickly shrink in a few seconds to the point where an uninfected victim’s mask is only 50% effective in stopping the virus.

Thus, the transmission rate increases from less than 10% to 50%, a five-fold increase, which is WHY comments such as, “If you feel a need to wear a mask, then wear a mask, but I won’t” are so damned IGNORANT of the fact each person wearing a mask has a five-fold greater effect on the transmission from themselves than wearing a mask has on preventing one from contracting the disease from another.

This is THE KEY TAKEWAY, so I’ll state it again:

Wearing a mask is five times more effective at stopping you from infecting others than it is at stopping others from infecting you.

If you’re still having mental difficulty understanding why this is so critical to with respect to the nature of Civic Responsibility, then perhaps you should move far away from the rest of us humans and go live in the woods or on some deserted island.

The United States of America isn’t an anarchy. It’s not a democracy, either. It’s a Republic, governed by the rule of law. If you’re unwilling to live in compliance with our system of laws designed not only to protect your own rights and freedoms, but also to protect everyone’s right to reasonable safety, then perhaps it’s best if you just leave our country altogether.


Up until a few weeks ago, I was still “respecting others opinions” even when I disagreed with them. Then, some anti-maskers started becoming abusive when presented with even basic, straightforward scientific information.

I kicked them to the curb.

In the last couple of weeks, however, I’ve been booting everyone posting false information about masks, not only because it leads others into behaviors which exacerbate the pandemic, but mostly because exacerbating the pandemic leads to greater loss of life.

Put simply, given the massive volumes of correct, unambiguous, and properly organized information available to everyone, the behavior of anti-maskers is tantamount to negligent homicide.

Seriously, it’s no different than than the advice drug users would pass around for countering a bad trip or an overdose.

Much of their advice resulted in severe injury and death.

I refuse to grant any sort of access or quarter to those who harm others out of either willful intention or willful ignorance (negligence). There is absolutely no excuse for it.

A word on anti-maskers aka COVIDIOTS:

There exists a disease known as Covidiotitis which routinely affects extreme right-wingers in the sticks as well as extreme left-wingers crammed into big cities. Outbursts range from “I ain’t wearin’ no mask!” to “The beatings will continue until morale improves.”

Both are sides of the same Coin of Derangement.

COVIDIOT: “If you’re actually vulnerable, protect yourself. Problem solved. Let the other vast majority live their lives as they see fit. Not cowering.”

You’re not thinking, either.

To parrot your response: If you are actually contagious, protect others. The problem is, 80% of contagious people NEVER KNOW THEY’RE CONTAGIOUS. In their anti-mask ignorance, they spread the infection.

“Bu-bu-but you can protect yourself by wearing a mask!”

Furthermore, due to rapid mucous droplet evaporation and size reduction, masks are FOUR TIMES more effective at the source than they are at the destination. Thus, masking both a contagious source and the destination is FIVE TIMES more effective than masking just the destination.

Solution: Everyone wear a mask.

Thank God someone in charge finally had enough sense to publish a mandate. What a shame far too many Americans don’t have the common sense God gave a pig.

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