Updated: Sep 7
Are Face Shields Better Than Masks for Coronavirus Protection?
The advantages of wearing a Face Shield, and how to make your own in minutes
By now we know we should be wearing face masks to protect others from potentially deadly infection when we leave the house. But face masks can be hot, and they can irritate the skin, fog glasses, make it difficult for some to breathe, and create a world without smiles. It also can be difficult for people who have hearing loss to communicate when mouths are covered, muffled voices, and hiding facial expressions. Are Face Shield, most frequently used in health care settings, a better option? Some say no: Health officials in Switzerland recently warned that shields alone may not offer as much protection as masks alone; in a recent outbreak at a hotel, some employees and a guest who wore plastic visor-style shields tested positive for COVID-19, while those who wore masks did not.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to recommend wearing Face Masks in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.” But some health experts say Face shields appear to be very effective at preventing infection — maybe even more effective than masks — for someone going about regular daily activities and not in a high-risk health care setting.
Face shields are personal protective equipment devices that are used by many workers (e.g., medical, dental, veterinary) for protection of the facial area and associated mucous membranes (eyes, nose, mouth) from splashes, sprays, and spatter of body fluids. Face shields are generally not used alone, but in conjunction with other protective equipment and are therefore classified as adjunctive personal protective equipment. Although there are millions of potential users of face shields, guidelines for their use vary between governmental agencies and professional societies and little research is available regarding their efficacy.