MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Mayo Clinic is releasing pre-published data that it says confirms the critical role masks play in preventing COVID-19 infection.

On Tuesday, the Mayo Clinic said it is releasing the new, unpublished data on masking efficacy to “help highlight the importance of masking and social distancing” as Thanksgiving approaches.

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According to Mayo Clinic, the findings “strongly support” the importance of widespread mask use and maintaining physical distance to stop the spread of COVID-19.

“This was an experimental study where we emulated the production of respiratory droplets by using mannequins, that were masked and other mannequins that were unmasked and measured the spread of those droplets at various distances,” said Elie Berbari, M.D., chair of the department of infectious diseases at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

VIDEO: Mayo Clinic research confirms critical role of masks in preventing COVID-19 infection (Youtube)

Researchers then measured how effectively masks blocked the number of aerosol particles from a masked source — simulating an individual with COVID-19 infection. They also simulated the risk of an individual contracting COVID-19 when masked.

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“I think we had some knowledge about the importance of masks and there’s been a number of studies that have showed masks are effective in blocking viruses, but what’s really important here is just how effective masking is when done by both parties,” Berbari said.

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The study also found physical separation reduces exposure of respiratory droplets and that 3 feet is helpful, but 6 feet of separation reduces particle counts to near baseline levels.

Rochester, Minnesota is home to the flagship campus of the Mayo Clinic, and is frequently regarded as one of America’s best hospitals.

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