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Microbiology tests show the importance of face coverings and how bacteria can spread

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WAUSAU, Wis. (WAOW) -- Aspirus Wausau Hospital has recently conducted Microbiology testing in house to determine the difference in bacteria spread either with or without a mask or face covering.

“As we’re more educated about how this virus can spread and how different bacteria can spread, it helps people understand what they can do to help keep themselves and others safe,” Aspirus Wausau Hospital Infection Preventionist Anna Marciniak said.

Marciniak said masks serve as a physical barrier, which was put to the test. For the Microbiology test; A subject would go in a room by themselves, to then cough, sneeze, and talk into a petri dish that uses blood agar.

“What this is showing is bacteria spreading with and without a mask," it is not necessarily showing how COVID-19 is spreading. What it’s doing is serving as a surrogate and a representation of respiratory droplets,” Aspirus Wausau Hospital Microbiology Tech Specialist Kerbe Weden said. "It's to determine how respiratory droplets are spread when we either cough, sneeze, or talk briefly from one to two minutes.”

Hospital officials said the droplets can travel up to six feet. The experiment shows bacteria growth after only 24 hours, which is intended to to show when you have a face covering on, there's less of a chance for your respiratory droplets to be given to someone else.

Other things you can do to prevent the spread of your droplets aside from covering your cough or sneeze is practicing good hand hygiene, cleaning and disinfecting regularly, and social distancing.