Is it better to mask or shield?

BY GABI ISENBERG –  All of IJHS knows the struggle to keep masks on all day. The fabric makes faces hot and breathing more difficult. On the other hand, face shields can fog up and make foreheads sweaty and uncomfortable. 

“I like face shields, but I feel like they don’t cover your mouth completely. There is the space at the bottom where, obviously, things can come out. I think they are nice, but not in a setting where there are a lot of people gathered. Maybe if it were the teachers in the front of the room, it would be okay,” said Lily Adams (7). 

“I think that a mask reduces the airflow of your and other’s breath more than a shield does because a well-fitting mask does not have space around it to let air in/out,” said Lilli Fleming (7).

“I personally prefer masks over face shields due to face masks being less substantially large and less clunky feeling…I also prefer mask over face shields because mask can normally keep my glass from fogging up and also face masks can also be annoying if you get something on the shield you have to go through cleaning it.” said Ean Wiggins (7).

Although comfort is a consideration, what offers the most protection from COVID-19? A recent research study from Loma Linda University found that there is no simple answer to this. Since some people are wearing homemade masks that don’t filter as much as an N95 mask does, the variables are not consistent, and therefore not allowing an accurate experiment to be conducted. However, this study also shows that face shields can also offer protection, but not as well as masks. The study states that, 

“If someone coughs 18 inches from you while you are wearing a face shield, the immediate viral exposure is reduced by 96%…If the person remains coughing and talking with you for 30 minutes, then the face shield blocks 68% of the small air particles.”

Although the face shield will protect someone from the virus, the more time they spend with someone that has COVID-19, the more the face shield’s protection decreases. The virus makes its way around the shield with time. The chief of infectious diseases at Loma Linda says that masks are still better for protecting you from the virus. Masks cover both a person’s nose and mouth tightly whereas a face shield has openings at the chin and sides. The CDC and FDA recommend masks as well as many other professionals. Although any face covering can prevent COVID-19, the best option is a mask.

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