Nobody likes wearing a face mask.
They are hot, stuffy, and they make it difficult to breathe. They can fog up your glasses. You constantly have to adjust them to make them comfortable. In doing so, we wreck their effectiveness by contaminating them with our hands.
But face masks are a fact of life during the pandemic. We’ll have to wear them in public for months, maybe even years.
Or will we?
An article in the Journal of the American Medical Association reveals an alternative.
The authors are three University of Iowa physicians. They said that plastic face shields “can be quickly and affordably” made and distributed. “(They) should be included as part of strategies to safely and significantly reduce transmission,” they wrote.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends cloth masks to reduce coronavirus transmission. But the trio of medical experts wrote that testing indicates that cloth masks provide only limited “filtration of virus-sized aerosol particles.”
They believe face shields are a better option.
The Iowa doctors said face shields have several advantages:
- They’re more comfortable than face masks.
- They keep you from unconsciously touching your face.
- They can be reused.
- They can be easily cleaned.
- It’s easier to communicate while wearing them.
A face shield “allows visibility of facial expressions and lip movements for speech perception,” said the authors.
A face shield consists of a clear sheet of plastic. It should extend from your forehead to below your chin. It should cover your ears. And there should be “no exposed gap between the forehead and the shield’s headpiece,” the physicians said.
This is what they look like:
Research shows that face shields reduce viral exposure by more than 90% when someone near you coughs.
That number is even better than it might sound. The study authors point out that nothing, including a vaccine, will ever provide 100% protection against the coronavirus.
Dr. Robert Glatter is an emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. He said that healthcare workers now routinely wear face shields when caring for coronavirus patients. It’s clear that the success of face shields in hospitals “provides the basis for their utility in the community setting as we relax physical distancing,” he said.
Coronavirus: What You Need to Know About Face Shields
Face shields are available from online retailers and medical supply companies. Prices run as low as $19.95.
Make sure to look for medical face shields. Don’t confuse them with the kind used for certain types of carpentry and construction work. They look similar, but are made with thicker, non-flexible plastic, and cost upwards of $180.
You should clean your face shield after every public outing. Use soap and water or other disinfectants such as alcohol or bleach solutions.
If you hate wearing a cloth face mask, a face shield may be a lifesaver for you during the pandemic.
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