Coronavirus: I hate face masks, so can I use a plastic face shield instead?

  • Health officials say masks are better at preventing viral droplets during the Covid-19 pandemic
  • If you do wear a shield, it’s important to wash your hands before and after putting it on
Associated Press |
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Sure, a model’s smile is part of their job, but for now, it’s needs to stay behind a mask. Photo: EPA-EFE

If you’re tempted to dump the face mask and switch to face shields instead, think again.

Health officials don’t recommend the clear plastic barriers as a substitute for masks because of the lack of research on whether they keep an infected person from spreading viral droplets to others.

However, if you want extra protection, you can put one on as well as a mask.

Face shields have the added benefit of protecting your eyes and discouraging you from touching your face by acting as a physical barrier, says Christopher Sulmonte, project administrator of the biocontainment unit at Johns Hopkins Hospital in the US.

Feel like maybe your breath is stinkier than usual behind your mask?

Meanwhile, the available research so far indicates that the best face shields for preventing viral spread are hooded or wrap around the sides and bottom of the face, according to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That’s because those shields leave less space for droplets – from sneezing, coughing and talking – to escape.

If they’re good enough for Ari and Mother Monster ... Photo: MTV via APIf you do wear a reusable face shield in addition to a mask, the CDC notes the importance of cleaning it after each use. They also say you should wash your hands before and after taking it off, and avoid touching your face while removing it – just like your face mask.

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