Sometimes information travels too fast and that is particularly a problem where the information is misinterpreted or just plain wrong. Such is the case of neck gaiters and their efficacy in preventing the spread of Covid-19.
It seems everyone saw the story that prestigious Duke University tested gaiters and that as a face covering gaiters are worse than no face covering at all. Gaiter sales plummeted, but they shouldn’t have. Gaiters are fine, and they are most assuredly better than wearing nothing in terms of spreading Covid-19 to the public.
The Duke study was a professor and his daughter using some jury-rigged cell phone contraption to try and test face mask effectiveness. It was not a study of gaiters and in fact even the author expressed dismay at the media’s coverage of his work. “Our intent was not to say this mask doesn’t work, or never use neck gaiters,” he told the New York Times. “This was not the main part of the paper.”
There is a paper here done at Virginia Tech demonstrating that gaiters are effective. They are more effective if two ply, but effective even if one ply.
Among my own employees they are more effective than other types of masks in that the employees will actually use them! A mask dangling from your ear or left on your desk is not effective at all.
Over time face coverings will evolve to be increasingly effective and will cater to a variety of situations and applications. Gaiters are particularly useful if you are pulling your face covering up and down often, like when you are driving around making deliveries or eating and drinking in a public space.
There is a good evaluation of this gaiter “controversy” by the MIT Medical Department here.
Here are four reasons not to throw out your gaiters, by Science News.
They quote the author of the Duke study as saying, “A mask doesn’t have to be perfect for it to work.”
Face shields, cotton masks, gaiters, disposable masks all can help. Consensus is that two ply is better than single ply. Mostly people seem to misunderstand that it isn’t so much to protect yourself as it is to protect others. Since people infected with Covid-19 can be asymptomatic you have to assume anyone might have it, even you, so wear some sort of face covering out there, even if its a gaiter.