THURSDAY, April 30, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Hundreds of millions of Americans heeded recent government advice and rushed to wear cloth face masks, hoping they might prevent transmission of the new coronavirus.
But there’s another option: The clear plastic face shield, already in use by many health care personnel.
Now, a team of experts say face shields might replace masks as a more comfortable and more effective deterrent to COVID-19.
“Face shields, which can be quickly and affordably produced and distributed, should be included as part of strategies to safely and significantly reduce transmission in the community setting,” said a trio of physicians from the University of Iowa.
Reporting in the April 29 Journal of the American Medical Association, experts led by Dr. Eli Perencevich, of the university’s department of internal medicine, and the Iowa City VA Health Care System, said the face shield’s moment may have come.
While the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began advocating the use of cloth masks to help stop COVID-19 transmission in April, laboratory testing “suggests that cloth masks provide [only] some filtration of virus-sized aerosol particles.”
According to Perencevich’s group, “face shields may provide a better option.”
To be most effective in stopping viral spread, a face shield should extend to below the chin. It should also cover the ears and “there should be no exposed gap between the forehead and the shield’s headpiece,” the Iowa team members said.
Shields have a number of advantages over masks, they added. First of all, they are endlessly reusable, simply requiring cleaning with soap and water or common disinfectants. Shields are usually more comfortable to wear than masks, and they form a barrier that keeps people from easily touching their own faces.
When speaking, people sometimes pull down a mask to make things easier — but that isn’t necessary with a face shield. And “the use of a face shield is also a reminder to maintain social distancing, but allows visibility of facial expressions and lip movements for speech perception,” the authors pointed out.