face shields

Some Prefer Face Shields to Masks. Experts Are Split on Effectiveness

A stylist wearing a protective face shield and mask cuts a customers hair at a salon in Arlington, Virginia, U.S., on Friday, May 29, 2020.
Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says cloth face coverings can help slow the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19, but many people still resist wearing masks. Some people claim they can't breathe well while wearing them.

But what about face shields, worn like hats with a curved piece of plastic that comes down in front of the entire face. Health care workers have long used them as protective equipment.

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New York state counts face shields as an option to cover the face that can be used in lieu of masks, but experts are divided over how well they protect against coronavirus droplets, NBC News reported.

"People who wear these homemade cloth masks are invariably touching their face constantly to adjust it, and we know that touching your face is one routine mechanism for infecting you," said Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security. "When you're wearing a face shield, you're less likely to touch your face."

A study published in 2014 in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene analyzed how well face shields block aerosol droplets. By using cough simulators, researchers found that face shields reduced exposure to inhaling cough droplets by 96 percent.

But the author of the study, William Lindsley, a research biomedical engineer at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, said the general public should stick to cloth face coverings.

"A cloth mask or a medical mask is going to do a better job of protecting you against the smaller particles than a face shield would," Lindsley said.

Read the full story on NBCNews.com.

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