Should We Be Wearing Face Masks or Face Shields?


With mask requirements in place in various places across the country, many are opting for plastic face shields instead. But is there a rhyme or reason to which is better?

The face shields are typically used in an industrial or hospital setting, accompanied by an N-95 mask.

Dr. Michael Edmond, professor of infectious diseases at the University of Iowa Health Care, told "Good Morning America" that the face shield's aren't a bad option if you're looking for breathability.

"I think face shields are a great option," he said. "One great advantage this time of the year is that they aren't as hot as a face mask is. For most people, it feels easier to breathe when you have on a face shield, you don't get the fogging that you get with a mask if you're a person like me who wears glasses, and they're easy to clean."

A 2014 study in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene found that a simulation showed 96% efficacy in protecting the face shield wearer from droplets of a cough.

And while the face shields will "reduce the short-term exposure of health care workers to large infectious" particles, they should not be used as a substitute for respiratory protection.

Ultimately, Edmond and Dr. Colleen Kraft, an infectious disease doctor at Emory University, agree that more research is needed to see how face shields can protect wearers against COVID-19 in particular.

"You should be wearing a mask when you're in public, in any area," Kraft said.

"We don't have all the data that we need," Edmond said. "Really what you would like is a study that head-to-head compares face masks to face shields and those studies aren't yet available."

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