Face Shields Might be a More Comfortable Alternative to Face Masks for Some
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The CDC, the WHO, the Minnesota Department of Health and all major public health organizations recommend that all Americans wear face coverings while in public to slow transmission of the COVID-19 illness. Face coverings work by blocking droplets that might carry infectious viral particles when we speak, sneeze, cough or breathe.
People working on farms should wear face coverings when they are interacting with the public, at a farmers’ market, while making or receiving deliveries, and when possible when they are in close contact on the farm and within 6 feet of others.
Remember, while face coverings reduce the spread of respiratory droplets, they do not stop all droplets, and therefore it is important to maintain physical distancing as much as possible, even when wearing a face covering.
In hot and dusty conditions many people find that cloth masks might be too hot or constrictive, and wish to find an alternative. Plastic face shields are a viable alternative to cloth masks, and can be worn on the farm or when making deliveries or when interacting with the public like at a farmers’ market. Some people with medical conditions find shields more tolerable than cloth face coverings.
Some potential benefits of face shields
- Allow for better communication than cloth masks, as they are clear and facial expressions and lips can be seen and read while talking
- Might be more comfortable and less constrictive
- Might help you not touch your face as frequently, if you are pulling at cloth masks or removing them to talk
- Durable, as plastic shields can be washed and sanitized easily
Do shields work as well as cloth masks?
Yes, if used correctly. Recent research in JAMA and the Lancet analyzed metadata from multiple studies and concluded that face shields can provide effective alternatives to cloth masks in terms of reduction in spread if the shields go down to the chin and over the ears, and are combined with physical distancing.
From the JAMA article: "In a simulation study, face shields were shown to reduce immediate viral exposure by 96% when worn by a simulated health care worker within 18 inches of a cough. Even after 30 minutes, the protective effect exceeded 80% and face shields blocked 68% of small particle aerosols, which are not thought to be a dominant mode of transmission of SARS-CoV-2."
Reminders for safe use
- Face coverings are not 100% effective, so remember to maintain physical distance of at least 6 feet from other people whenever possible, even when wearing coverings
- Clean and sanitize shield between uses
- Make sure the shield goes below your chin
- Shields have more space around the mouth than a tight-fitting cloth mask, so take care to not cough or sneeze when wearing one near other people
- Should be tight against forehead
- Continue to wash hands and take other precautions