Updated: Jul 22
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been many debates on whether face shields or face masks are better at preventing infection. Throughout this article, we will discuss the structure and build of both face shields and masks and determine which one is most effective. The three main differences are surface area of the face covered, the bands securing the mask/shield, and their material.
E.J. Mundell, a reporter for HealthDay, wrote an article about how face shields could be the new face mask. Mundell quotes the Journal of the American Medical Association when he says laboratory testing ‘suggests that cloth masks provide [only] some filtration of virus-sized aerosol particles.’ (Mundell, 2020). The face mask only covers the mouth and nose while the face shield covers the entire face, preventing large virus particles to enter the eyes, nose and mouth. The shield also provides a boundary that prevents people from touching their faces and spreading the germs that may be on their hands.
On the face shields, there is a band or strap that wraps around the head to secure the shield to the forehead. Face masks require elastic to be wrapped around the ears to hold the mask around the nose and mouth. Arguably the face shield has a higher comfort level than the mask because it does not pull on the ears or rub on the face.
Face shields are made of a clear plastic, making the face easy to see through it. Mundell quotes Dr. Eli Perencevich’s team when he says, ‘the use of a face shield is also a reminder to maintain social distancing but allows visibility of facial expressions and lip movements for speech perception.’ (Mundell, 2020). Many people pull their masks down when talking to others as they feel it is easier to communicate that way. Face shields solve this problem, as they are clear and do not muffle words. Marcus Fairs wrote an article including some advantages to wearing a face shield. He says, “they also prevent wearers from touching their faces and make it easier to communicate with others, since the mouth is visible.” (Fairs, 2020). Face shields not only make the mouth visible, but they provide that extra barrier between the face and the outside world.
The face shields and masks are both efficient and recommended ways to protect against COVID-19. The face shield provides an extra barrier as it protects the eyes, nose and mouth. The face shield also has an increased comfort level as it does not rub or pull on the ears. Overall, a face shield and a face mask worn together will be the best form of protection rather than one or the other.
Fairs, Marucs. (2020). Every Person Should Have a Face Shield. Dezeen. Retrieved from https://www.dezeen.com/2020/04/14/face-shield-coronavirus-interview-epidemiologist-michael-edmond/
Mundell, E.J. (2020). Are Face Shields Better Than Face Masks for Coronavirus? HealthDay. Retrieved from https://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=230978