Consider the following: Bill Nye is so fed up with people rejecting face masks that he came out of retirement for a new “Science Guy” video about the benefits of doing so during the coronavirus pandemic.
The famous pop-culture scientist revived his on-screen shtick for a two-minute PSA on TikTok, in order to stress the importance of wearing masks to stop the spread of COVID-19. The segment, called “Consider the Following,” uses the same quirky graphics he employed in his long-running ’90s PBS show, Bill Nye the Science Guy.
The segment shows Nye explaining the science behind cloth and N95 masks. He also demonstrates how effectively the masks trap air by attempting to blow out a lit candle through each of them.
“Face masks … prevent particles from my respiratory system from getting into the air, and then into your respiratory system,” Nye says in the first half of the segment, which is split across two TikTok videos.
More: Global News on TikTok
He compares masks to the science of scarves, which trap warm air close to the body in cold weather.
Nye explains that when you wear a cloth mask, “you’re protecting yourself and everyone around you.”
He also explained why N95 masks are so important for doctors and nurses who treat coronavirus patients.
“These are made to block particles in the medical environment — and when you’re out mowing the lawn,” he said.
Nye then goes on an emphatic rant about why it’s absolutely critical that people wear a mask: because it prevents them from unknowingly spreading the virus to others.
“The reason we want you to wear a mask is to protect you, sure, he says. “But the main reason we want you to wear a mask is to protect me, from you, and the particles from your respiratory system from getting into my respiratory system!”
Read more: Why some people still refuse to wear masks
He adds: “This is a matter, literally, of life and death, and when I use the word literally, I mean literally a matter of life and death. So when you’re out in public, please, wear a mask.”
More than 5 million people have watched Nye’s video on TikTok alone. It also racked up hundreds of thousands of views on Twitter.
The World Health Organization and health experts in Canada, the U.S. and various other countries have all recommended wearing a mask to prevent the spread of the virus through respiratory droplets. Various local lawmakers have also made it mandatory to wear a mask under certain circumstances, such as in public spaces or indoors.
Masks have become a partisan issue for some people, despite the scientific evidence supporting their use.
In Florida, for example, several people showed up at a county meeting to protest a rule that would make masks mandatory in public. Numerous speakers shouted down lawmakers in the meeting while pushing unfounded theories about masks.
“They all want to throw God’s beautiful breathing system out the door,” one critic of the law said. Another claimed, without evidence, that masks are “killing people.”
Many of the conspiracy theories have circulated on social media platforms such as Facebook. The platform took action back in May to remove one particularly viral video called Plandemic, which bundled several false and misleading claims about the virus into a single, unproven conspiracy theory.
Many social media users applauded Bill Nye for stepping up to explain the science of masks in layman’s terms. Some also lamented that it’s necessary at all, given the partisan debate around them.
“It’s sad that Bill Nye, the guy my 5th grade teacher made us watch, is still having to teach GROWN ADULTS to wear a mask,” Twitter user Payton Conley wrote.
“Bill Nye does it again and sadly has to give this basic science tutorial for many adults in America,” user Amee Vanderpool wrote.
“Wear a damn mask.”
Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.
To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out. In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus.
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