More and more local governments and health experts are asking citizens to wear masks or face coverings in public to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
In early April, the CDC issued guidance recommending that anyone wear a mask in public settings where social distancing is difficult — particularly grocery stores and pharmacies. But some local governments have taken the recommendations to a new level.
On Friday, the state of New York will require anyone in public to wear a mask, following an executive order from Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Last month, Laredo, Texas, made national headlines earlier this month when the city passed an ordinance stating that anyone caught without a mask could be punishable with a fine of up to $1,000.
The CDC says it adopted the recommendations due to how contagious the virus is even before the carrier begins exhibiting symptoms — meaning someone can pass the virus on before they even know they're sick. The CDC says wearing a mask prevents an infected person from spreading the virus through tiny saliva droplets that are produced when speaking and breathing.
A video published by the New England Journal of Medicine shows just how easy it can be to spread COVID-19 without a mask. Researchers trained a green laser light on an open box and had a person speak through the box. Any time droplets came out of the person's mouth, the laser illuminated them in green.
When speaking without a mask, the dark screen was filled with neon-green droplets. But when the exercise was repeated when the speaker was wearing a mask, nearly all the droplets were eliminated.
Watch the New England Journal of Medicine's video above. Read more about the study