Face Shield vs. Face Mask: What’s the Level of Protection?
Face Shields are not necessarily “better” than face masks and vice versa. They can’t be substituted because technically, they’re not designed to serve the same purpose. Simply put, there isn’t one “protective method” for preventing COVID-19.
By design, a face shield protects the eyes from a liquid. Face shields are frequently worn today because of this awareness. COVID-19 spreads through liquid airborne particles that can infect the human body in a myriad of ways, including through the eyes. Face shields protect the eyes from liquid contamination.
However, according to the CDC.gov, a face shield serves as eye protection only for the person wearing it. There is not enough evidence to know that wearing a face shield protects the people surrounding the wearer. At this time, it is not scientifically recommended to wear it as a primary source of protection.
On the other hand, when it comes to face masks, we know that there is some research as to the filtration rate of a mask when wearing it correctly. The fact is that wearing a mask even within close distance to a second wearer decreases the chances of spreading contaminated airborne particles such as COVID-19.
There is a continued debate amongst research analysts on the best design for a proper face mask. You want to wear a mask that has a filtration rate that is 90% or higher effectiveness. When worn together, a face shield and face mask can serve as the best personal protection.
How do face shields and face masks work well together?
They cover the open airways completely. As stated, face shields cover the eyes but they don’t fully cover the mouth or nose. Face masks fully cover the mouth and nose and they don’t cover the eyes. When worn together properly, everything is protected.
If face shields or face masks were preventive strictly on their own, doctors and medical professionals wouldn’t wear both in the hospital, correct? Both are completely and scientifically necessary for the best protection.
Keep in mind, COVID-19 is a contagious virus that can potentially spread through any open airways. We know that it can be spread by animals to people, between people, and from a contaminated person touching a shared object.
In Summary COVID-19 Spreads:
- Between people in close contact with one another within 6ft.
- Via respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes, talks, or spits.
- Though droplets in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or be inhaled into the lungs.
- COVID-19 may spread by people who are not showing any symptoms.
In addition to this evidence, health experts continuously recommend that regardless of what you choose as personal protection equipment, sanitation of personal and frequently used objects is absolutely necessary.
Furthermore, it is medically recommended that hands be washed in warm water for 20 seconds to rid bacteria. Should face shields and face masks serve as equals? Absolutely not. Though they are often used today as substitutions, they aren’t because they don’t serve the same purpose. When worn together, they’re a stronger preventative method.