“Because they extend down from the forehead, shields protect the eyes as well as the nose and mouth,”
says pediatric infectious disease specialist Frank Esper, MD. The coverage that face shields offer is ideal since the new coronavirus can enter the body through those points.
Layered cloth masks can filter some of the tiny, virus-sized particles that fly out when people cough, sneeze, talk or breathe. But face shields, the Iowa team said, may be a superior option. Shields can be easily cleaned with soap and water, or household disinfectants, and “reused indefinitely.” They’re comfortable to wear, block the virus from entering “portals,” (mouths, noses and eyes) and “reduce the potential for autoinoculation,” meaning implanting the virus into our own bodies after touching a contaminated surface, by preventing the wearer from touching his or her face. We can also see each other through them.
Dr. Isaac Bogoch is a big fan of face shields.
“They’re far more comfortable to wear, there’s no breathing issues with them, they’re not uncomfortable on hot summer days,”
said Bogoch, an infectious diseases specialist with Toronto’s University Health Network, who is seeing more people on the streets wearing face shields.
“They definitely cover the eyes, the nose and the mouth. You’re less likely to touch your face, because you’ve got a shield on,” Bogoch said.
“The other beautiful aspect of them is that there are no issues with verbal and non-verbal communication. You can see people’s faces right through them. The psychological and social benefits are significant.”
We don’t yet know if face shields are better, worse or equivalent to face masks. That’s being studied, Bogoch said.
“I’m not here to tell people what to do. I’m here to help people make informed decisions for themselves. But I think we should at least be open-minded to it.”
Infectious diseases physician Dr. Eli Perenvevich argued in a much-discussedJAMA articlethat face shields “should be included as part of strategies to safely and significantly reduce transmission in the community setting.”
Face shields can be quickly and affordably made and distributed, can be reused indefinitely, are easy to clean and comfortable to wear, the article says.