Protective Masks And Other PPE's Will Only Help Prevent And Not Guarantee Protection From Contaminants. Caution And Common Sense Must Always Be Used.
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According to Dr. Michael B. Edmond, MPH, MPA, MBA, chief quality officer and associate chief medical officer for University of Iowa Health Care, and clinical professor of infectious diseases at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, plastic face shields can reduce the risk of contracting the virus.
“The primary mechanism of transmission of COVID appears to be via droplets,” he said.
“Face shields are excellent at preventing droplets from coming into contact with the nose, mouth, and eyes, which are the body sites that the virus enters to establish infection,” Edmond added.
Dr. Joy Henningsen, clinical assistant professor, VAMC Section, at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine, however, noted that, “we don’t have any data yet about whether or not face shields alone can help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus from an infected person.”
“But, they may protect the wearer from an infected person when used with a mask,” she said.
While plastic face shields can provide some protection to the wearer against contracting the virus, we asked our experts how effective they are compared to face masks.
At this point, we simply don’t know, Edmond said. There are no published studies making the comparison.
He did, however, point to a not yet published study that found that face shields could provide better protection than face masks in protecting the wearer from the cough of a person 24 inches away.
Henningsen, however, pointed to another study that was done following an outbreak of COVID-19 in Switzerland. In this study, none of the people wearing masks tested positive for the virus. Several of the people wearing only face shields, however, did test positive.
Her conclusion? Face shields are a good supplement to face coverings, but should not be used in their place.
“There’s no such thing as too many weapons against the novel coronavirus,” said Henningsen. “The more protection, the better.”
“Face coverings, regular hand washing, physical distancing, and staying home as much as possible are very good tools. Add a face shield to all of those requisite practices and you go from ‘good’ to ‘great,'” she said.