Coronavirus: Is Wearing a Face Mask and a Face Shield a Good Strategy?

Reuters
October 7, 2020 Topic: Health Region: Americas Blog Brand: Coronavirus Tags: CoronavirusPandemicFace MaskShieldSymptoms

Coronavirus: Is Wearing a Face Mask and a Face Shield a Good Strategy?

Dr. Anthony Fauci called the use of goggles and eye shields as “perfect protection” from the coronavirus, but also said that it’s not “universally recommended.” 

 

 Most medical experts are now in agreement that face masks and coverings are highly effective in keeping coronavirus-laden respiratory droplets—which can be ejected when one talks, coughs, or sneezes—from infecting people nearby. 

But what happens if you wear a face shield over the mask? Will that offer even better protection against the novel coronavirusDr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, surely thinks so—as she has long recommended the use of face shields along with regular masks to reduce infection rates during the ongoing pandemic

 

“The mask protects others, to block those droplets and block that contamination that happens when you speak or sing or talk, or even breathe,” she said during an interview on Fox & Friends in late July. 

“The thing about the face shields—we think that could protect the individuals and that it would decrease the ability for them to touch their eyes and spread the virus as well as those droplets coming towards them. So, there are two different technologies for two different reasons.”  

White House coronavirus advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, would also be a strong proponent of the additional personal protective gear.

He has asserted that wearing goggles or an eye shield, along with a face mask or covering, would provide even greater protection against the virus that has infected more than 35.9 million people worldwide and killed at least 1.05 million, according to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University

“Theoretically, you should protect all of the mucosal surfaces (eyes, nose, mouth), so if you have goggles or an eye shield, you should use it,” the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said in an interview with ABC News on Instagram. 

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has already recommended wearing a face mask that covers the nose and mouth, but it admitted that the virus has the potential to also enter through the eyes. 

Fauci called the use of goggles and eye shields as “perfect protection” from the coronavirus, but also said that it’s not “universally recommended.” 

The CDC, however, has not given the green light to eschew regular masks and only wear face shields. 

“At this time, it is not known what level of protection a face shield provides to people nearby from the spray of respiratory droplets from the wearer,” the agency states.  

“There is currently not enough evidence to support the effectiveness of face shields for source control. Therefore, CDC does not currently recommend use of face shields as a substitute for masks.”  

Ethen Kim Lieser is a Minneapolis-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.  

Image: Reuters