SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — As COVID-19 cases climb in South Dakota, some are taking extra precautions.

In addition to getting vaccinated, doctors say wearing a mask is a safe and effective way to protect yourself and those around you. There has been plenty of information on the internet and on social media claiming masks don’t work. The medical community in KELOLAND strongly disagrees with that opinion.

Tiffany Peterson is the Director of Infection Prevention at Avera. She has spent a couple of decades studying infectious diseases and how they spread. She says it is frustrating to see and hear all the false information on the internet and on social media.

“You will hear people say that they don’t work because the virus is smaller than the pores in the mask but viruses by themselves are mobile. They need a vehicle on which to travel, and specifically to COVID, they use respiratory droplets,” Peterson said.

Masks severely limit the number of respiratory droplets being spread from our mouths. An animation from a Mayo Clinic study shows an example. In fact, researchers at Mayo recently did a study and found both paper masks and two-layer cloth masks are effective in severely limiting exposure. South Dakota’s State Epidemiologist agrees.

“Even a simple cloth mask that is two-ply, it has both the effect of trapping a lot of the particles that could potentially be infectious when somebody exhales. It also has the added benefit of, as they are breathing air in, that is doing a little bit of filtering as well,” State Epidemiologist Joshua Clayton said.

Sanford’s Chief Physician Dr. Jeremy Cauwels says if anyone has doubts about the effectiveness of masks and social distancing all they have to do is look at last school year.

“When we did that last year for school. We wiped out influenza; we wiped out RSV. And we have the opportunity to wipe it out for one more year until we can get the vaccine to a point where we can give it to those school kids as well,” Cauwels said.