As more Americans heed the guidance of healthcare experts to wear face coverings in public to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, we’re seeing more people using clear plastic face shields instead of masks. The shields are normally reserved for industrial settings, and hospital staff wear them along with surgical or N95 masks. But are they right for the average person facing this pandemic?
One health expert told Good Morning America that he thinks the shields are a “great option.”
“One advantage this time of year is that they aren’t as hot as a mask is,” said Dr. Michael Edmond, professor of infectious diseases at the University of Iowa Health Care. “For most people it feels easier to breathe when you have a face shield, you don’t get the fogging that you get with a mask if you’re a person who wears glasses and they’re easy to clean.”
A 2014 study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene found that face shields protected the wearer against cough droplets by an impressive 96%. What we don’t know, says Edmond, is if face shields protect others from respiratory particles if the wearer is sick.
“Really what you need is a study that head-to-head compares face masks to face shields and those studies aren’t available,” he told Good Morning America.
However, some experts say that face shields are at a clear advantage. Amesh Adalja, M.D., a pandemic preparedness expert at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, told AARP:
“There’s a lot of at least biological possibility to suspect that shields are definitely better than homemade face masks, and maybe better than other types of masks as well, because they not only prevent you from spreading it and because it covers your eyes, it provides more protection to the mucus membranes of your face where you might be getting infected.”
He added that people who wear masks tend to adjust them frequently, which brings their hands to their faces, potentially transferring the virus. He said that shields are also easy to clean and don’t contribute to the waste buildup of discarded face masks.
Experts told AARP that healthcare workers are most likely to wear both masks and shields to protect against the virus, but Adalja said that the average person won’t get much added benefit since the odds of viral particles getting up and under your mask are low.
“Someone would have to stand underneath you and sneeze up into you,” he said.
© 2020 NewsmaxHealth. All rights reserved.