Should you be wearing a face mask AND a face shield during the pandemic?

face shield coronavirus
Photo via The National Guard/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
  • The CDC doesn’t recommend wearing a face shield for everyday activities
  • Dr. Anthony Fauci is beginning to come around to the idea
  • A face shield should not be worn in lieu of a face mask

At this point in the coronavirus pandemic, it should be well known that you absolutely should be wearing a face mask when you’re out in public or if you can’t social distance around other people. But what about a face shield? Is that appropriate to wear? Should you wear a face mask AND a face shield at the same time?

According to the Centers for Disease Control, face shields are NOT recommended for every day activities. You also shouldn’t wear a face shield instead of a face mask, the CDC wrote in its guidelines. Even if Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid might not agree.

“It is not known if face shields provide any benefit as source control to protect others from the spray of respiratory particles,” the CDC wrote. “… Some people may choose to use a face shield when sustained close contact with other people is expected. If face shields are used without a mask, they should wrap around the sides of the wearer’s face and extend to below the chin. Disposable face shields should only be worn for a single use. Reusable face shields should be cleaned and disinfected after each use.”

The CDC is also adamant that “plastic face shields for newborns and infants are NOT recommended.”

But on July 31, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the face of the Trump administration’s coronavirus team, had a slightly different take on the face shield issue, especially when it comes the issue of protecting your eyes.

“If you have goggles or an eye shield, you should use it,” Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told ABC, via Business Insider. “It’s not universally recommended, but if you really want to be complete, you should probably use it if you can.”

The CDC already recommended shields for healthcare workers who are working, but not for people in everyday life. Though scientists believe most COVID-19 transmissions occur from respiratory droplets that come from a person who is talking or sneezing that then enter the nose or mouth of somebody nearby, those droplets can also enter through the eye.

“The thing about the face shields—we think that that could protect the individuals and that it would decrease the ability for them to touch their eyes and spread [the] virus as well as those droplets coming towards them,” Dr. Deborah Birx, the coronavirus response coordinator for the White House, recently told Fox and Friends.

As noted by the Guardian, wearing glasses or contact lenses to protect your eyes against the coronavirus would not work.  

Read more on coronavirus face coverings:

Sources: CDC, Business Insider, Guardian

Continue Learning