ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – New research from Sandia National Labs shows masks and plexiglass barriers are effective in keeping people safe from airborne viruses. The research also found social distancing and proper ventilation are key in minimizing virus transmission.

A simulation by Sandia National Laboratories researchers showing how a face mask stops virus-laden vapor released during a cough.

One of the research teams found that while protective barriers like the plexiglass partitions in grocery stores protect from the larger droplets, very tiny particles can persist in the air for a longer time and travel some distance depending on the environmental conditions. Using computer simulations, researchers found that large droplets, and the smaller aerosol particles left behind, traveled at least two feet farther if there was no barrier compared to if there was one.

They looked at what happens to the smaller aerosol droplets when a person is wearing a face covering, and it showed that face masks and shields keep even the small droplets from a cough from dispersing large distances. The researchers were then able to use these methods and apply them to actual protocol and procedures that were implemented as Albuquerque Public Schools and other schools open up.