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Face shields vs. masks: Experts compare effectiveness against COVID

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Phone, wallet, keys, mask and … shield?

We all know that wearing a face mask in conjunction with social distancing is the ultimate protection against COVID-19, aside from also getting vaccinated when it is your turn. But more and more, face shields have popped up in places such as airports, hospitals and even on the streets — which has us wondering, what that is all about?

If you’re curious what the situation with shields is, and more importantly, what the experts think about them, read on for a succinct pros and cons, what you need to be wearing and when, and how to get some face shields and more masks for yourself.

Face shield pros and cons

In this case, you really don’t want to throw caution to the wind, as there may be COVID particles in that gust of air. The pro of wearing a face shield is having an extra barrier between your face and the outside world, while also protecting your eyes like goggles also can.

“It makes sense that using any precaution that shields your face, including your eyes, would be beneficial,” Dr. Jake Deutsch, a Manhattan physician and the clinical director and co-founder of Specialty Infusion, told The Post in early March of eye protection helping protect against virus infections.

However, the “con” of a shield is that is will not protect you by itself, and needs a face mask that covers your nose and mouth that actually provides the bulk of the protection.

“CDC does not recommend using face shields or goggles as a substitute for masks. Goggles or other eye protection may be used in addition to a mask,” reads the CDC website. “Face shields and goggles are primarily used to protect the eyes of the person wearing it. Goggles do not cover the nose and mouth. Face shields are not as effective at protecting you or the people around you from respiratory droplets.”

When should I wear a face shield, a mask or both?

Close-up on a sanitizing station at home with a face shield, facemask and antibacterial gel on the tablet – COVID-19 pandemic concepts
Getty Images

Either, neither or both? We vote the latter and so do the experts, at least for now while the pandemic rages on.

“Some people may choose to use a face shield when sustained close contact with other people is expected,” reads the CDC site. “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.”

However, as stated before, when considering wearing a face shield, it should always be in addition to your trusty (and clean) mask. While the plastic barrier appears to cover the whole face, the shield is really only protecting your eyes and skin on your face, not your nose and mouth from inhaling or spraying droplets into the air around you.

Some instances of prolonged close contact make many wonder if they should add a shield to their supply of PPE, especially when traveling or other unavoidable situations such as going to work outside of the home or caring for a family member.

“We’ve seen customers use our masks and face shields in tandem when flying, for hospital visits or in service industries,” said Shaz Amin, co-founder of WellBefore. “In our opinion, extra protection is never a bad thing, even post pandemic there will be a need for masks and face shields for the general public. Hopefully by then only one of them will be needed based on the use case.”

The verdict from our experts

The answer: if you’ve got it, flaunt it. And by “it” we mean all the PPE.

It will never hurt to add a shield or goggles to your daily COVID-protection arsenal, so long as that you are also wearing a face mask over your nose and mouth and that all your protective equipment is clean and sanitized regularly.

“You have mucosa in the nose, mucosa in the mouth, but you also have mucosa in the eye,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci back in July 2020. “Theoretically, you should protect all the mucosal surfaces. So if you have goggles or an eye shield you should use it.”

If you don’t have a shield yet, or are running low on masks, see below for some good options that you can also buy in bulk.

Where to buy face shields

WellBefore Adjustable Face Shield – Extra Coverage Width & Height, $1.99 each

A blue head with a face shield on
WellBefore

The WellBefore reusable face shield has extra width and height coverage, wrapping around your face and dropping far below your chin for maximum protection.

“Our Well Before reusable clear PET face shield is designed to protect the entire face from any spray and/or splatter, droplets, dust, oil, smoke, and more. PET film is treated with anti-fog and anti-static coating to improve maximum visibility,” reads the product page.

The shields are just $1.99 each, with a minimum order of two, and they ship within 48 business hours or less.

WellBefore Kids Adjustable Face Shield, $1.99 each

A blue mannequin with a face shield
WellBefore

One size does not fit all, especially for your little one’s little face.

Instead of trying to adjust the adult size to fit, get them their own kid’s shield, made of the same protective plastic as the larger one but made to fit snugly and securely on their foreheads.

The shield itself is anti-fog and anti-static and the forehead piece is lined with a comfortable foam for all-day wear with little to no irritation. They are sold for just $1.99 per shield with a minimum order of two, and can be cleaned with hand sanitizer and reused day after day.

Where to buy face masks

RespoKare Anti-Viral Surgical Mask, $2.49 each

A darker blue surgical face mask
WellBefore

RespoKare is the name of the game when it comes to protective surgical-grade PPE.

The darker blue mask is sold on WellBefore’s site for just $2.49 each, and come pre-packaged and individually wrapped for ultimate sanitation and ease of use. The mask is made of four layers and has an adjustable nose bridge to keep it secured to your face and keep particles out.

Order as little as two masks, or order in larger quantities in denominations of fives, all shipping within 48 business hours from purchase.

Kids KN95, $1.99 each

A set of three kid's face masks in blue, white and green
WellBefore

Here is a great KN95 option for the kiddos out there.

Now that many schools are back in person and with the weather warming up, let the kids play outside safely when masked up with a KN95. The masks come individually wrapped, making it easy to put one on their face and one in their backpack before they leave for the day.

The masks have five layers of protection and are sold in quantities as little as 10 masks in assorted colors. Choose between a mix of five blue and five white or a larger order of four white, three blue and three green masks so they have a new one for every day of the week and then some.

Adult KN95, $1.99 each

A white face mask
WellBefore

Now for the adult’s turn, make sure you also protect yourself once the little ones are squared away.

The regular KN95 masks come in a package of as little as five, but add as many as you need to your cart in denominations of 10 after that. The white masks have standard ear loops as well as a metal nose bridge to keep it safe and secure while also remaining breathable for all-day wear.

They are made with five layers of protection and the sixth layer so-to-speak comes with the individual wrapping of the masks, making sure the only person to touch the mask is you upon opening your package.

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