HOUSTON — A photo showing the results of an experiment that claims to test the effectiveness of wearing a mask is gaining ground on social media. Someone asked the VERIFY team to find out if the results are real.
The photo shows eight Petri dishes laid out in rows. They are divided into two columns to show the bacteria spread from respiratory droplets during sneezing, singing, talking and coughing while not wearing a mask and wearing one.
James wrote the VERIFY team, “Can you verify that the contents of this picture are true?”
Our source for this is Dr. Richard Davis, Director of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Disease Testing at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center. His name also appears at the bottom of the photo.
Davis recently spoke about his experiment during an interview on Facebook.
“The goal here was to demonstrate where droplets go using bacteria to show, as a proxy, where droplets end up,” Davis said.
When he coughed and sneezed without wearing a mask, the plates appear to have collected the most bacteria. The illustration shows significantly less during all activities while he was wearing a mask.
Davis also shared the results of a similar experiment where he coughed into the trays while standing 2, 4 and 6 feet away to test the effectiveness of social distancing.
“The 6-feet rule we’ve been talking about and hearing about, it’s not a forcefield that’s going to prevent any aerosol or whatever comes out of your mouth from traveling that far, but keeping your distance of 6 feet is really going to make difference in droplets that might be spread by somebody around you," he said.
So, we can VERIFY the contents in the photo are real.
Davis said he used a medical mask during this experiment. But he believes the results would be similar while wearing a cloth face covering. The point, he said, is that wearing a mask is effective.