The COVID-19 pandemic presents enormous challenges. A newly emerged virus to which the world’s population has no immunity, coupled with the rapid movement of people across the globe, has set the stage for an outbreak of proportions not seen in the last century.
For infection with this virus to occur, it must come into contact with the eyes, nose, or mouth. This happens when droplets produced by an infected person (via talking, coughing or sneezing), land on the face of another person. These infectious droplets can travel up to 6 feet, which is the reason to promote social distancing. Touching a surface that is contaminated with infectious droplets and then touching one’s own eyes, nose or mouth, is another way for infection to occur. Therefore, the key to avoiding infection is to have these areas of the face covered.
In hospitals, face masks and goggles are typically used to prevent exposure to infectious droplets. However, face mask shortages are occurring because of interruptions in the supply chain, which is deeply rooted in China and disrupted by the pandemic. Some health care workers have been forced to resort to scarves and bandannas in a last-ditch attempt to protect themselves while providing care. Even when plentiful, face masks are not without problems. Once they become wet from the humidity in exhaled air, they lose effectiveness. In addition, some individuals touch their face more often to adjust the mask, which increases the risk of infection if the hands are contaminated.
Cloth masks, though better than nothing, have been shown to be less protective than medical-grade face masks.
We believe that face shields provide a better solution. There are many types, but all use clear plastic material attached to a headpiece to cover the eyes, nose and mouth, thereby preventing infectious droplets from contacting these areas where the virus can enter the body. They cover more of the face than masks and prevent the wearer from touching their face. Importantly, face shields are durable, can be cleaned after use, reused repeatedly, and for many people are more comfortable than face masks. Because these shields are reusable and are diversified across the supply chains of multiple industries, the current supply is less limited than for face masks.
“Importantly, they cover all the portals of entry for this virus: the eyes, the nose, and the mouth. Moreover, the supply chain is significantly more diversified than that of face masks, so availability is much greater.”