face mask or shield?

Are you beginning to wonder whether you should be using a transparent plastic face shield in lieu of OR in addition to a face mask, to protect yourself and others from the virus?

First, let’s review what cloth face coverings do to protect us.

Cloth face coverings and masks have been deemed an essential part of containing and eradicating Covid-19. They need to be worn in situations when six feet of distance between you and others is difficult to maintain. According to the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), the cloth barrier prevents the respiratory droplets from traveling into the air and onto other people when the person wearing the cloth face covering coughs, sneezes, talks, or raises their voice. These coverings are especially important to wear at stores, malls, offices, and other indoor spaces where people frequently have to pass by each other at close distance.

So what about face shields? They may provide an additional layer of protection, especially for the eyes. Eyes, like the nose and mouth may be an entry point for the virus, and should not be touched when possibly exposed to the virus. For those of us who might forget about this and rub our eyes now and then while grocery shopping, a face shield barrier typically prevents that behavior and improves your overall safety.

A face shield may also be the protective gear of choice for people who cannot, because of their health conditions or otherwise, use a face covering. The Huffington Post recently cited an example from Krutika Kuppalli, an infectious disease physician and vice chair of the IDSA Global Health Committee, who has a hearing impairment. She noted that people who are deaf or hard of hearing, and who depend on reading lips and facial expressions for communication, may benefit from face shields.

However, the CDC points out that face shields have not been shown to be a substitute for a mask When worn alone, they should wrap around the sides of the face and extend below the chin. It is also important to use disposable shields only once, and to disinfect reusable shields after every use.

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