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Plastic face shields, or now “COVID visors,” are one piece of PPE still questionable as to how effective and necessary they are at protecting against the virus.
Unlike fabric face masks which are recommended by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) in many situations and settings, there are no official guidelines or suggestions for wearing face shields.
This begs the question: are face shields merely just in fashion at the moment – with many style influencers on social media sporting them — or are they actually functional?
“Theoretically, the virus of COVID-19 could arrive at the eyes and travel down through our tear ducts into the nose and throat,” says Dr. Berger. In this scenario, a face shield could protect the eyes from infected respiratory droplets potentially entering the body.
However, there is still little to suggest that someone going about their everyday business would need to wear one. A protective fabric mask that fits snuggly over the mouth and nose is still the better option. “Plastic visors and shields do not filter air, and at most, prevent larger droplets of infectious material from arriving at our face directly,” Dr. Berger explains.
Additionally, face masks could lend a sense of false security with the wearer getting too close to someone else or feeling confident in attending large gatherings which are still considered unsafe.
To help prevent the spread of the disease, the best protection remains wearing a cloth face mask, social distancing, and practicing good hand hygiene.
Medical experts concede that the few instances when it may be helpful to wear a face shield are when working out and it is difficult to breathe in a tighter mask, or when it is necessary for someone who is hearing impaired to read lips and see facial expressions.
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