Face shields are easier to talk in, but are they safer than masks?

By Laura Hensley  Global News


Face shields may not be commonplace in all public spaces just yet, but as the novel coronavirus pandemic continues, more Canadians are considering the plastic protective face wear.

Plastic face shields are typically used in medical settings to protect health-care workers but are now being used in schools, restaurants and grocery stores in both Canada and abroad to help curb the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.

“With face masks, there’s this lack of human connectivity and sense of anonymity when you only see the top part of someone’s face,” said Xenia Chen, founder of Threads, a tights company that sells non-medical masks.

“Face shields solve that issue.”

Using plastic face shields

In a recent opinion article published in the medical journal JAMA, three doctors out of Iowa argued that plastic face shields should be added to community COVID-19 prevention measures alongside contract tracing, handwashing and social distancing.

The doctors wrote that face shields “offer a number of advantages,” which include the fact that many models can be reused indefinitely and easily cleaned with household disinfectants.

Plastic face shields cover the eyes, nose and mouth — all areas where the novel coronavirus can enter the body. Droplets, expelled by sneezing or coughing, transmit the virus, meaning it’s important those areas are covered from both a spreading and exposure perspective.

“They are comfortable to wear, protect the portals of viral entry and reduce the potential for autoinoculation by preventing the wearer from touching their face,” the authors wrote.

“People wearing medical masks often have to remove them to communicate with others around them; this is not necessary with face shields.”

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