COVID fatigue is real. The social distancing, isolation, and fear of contracting the virus are a lot to deal with. And what about those masks? Aren’t you ready to peel it off?
You’ll want to hold up on that, especially if you’re thinking about trading it in for a face shield.
Face shields have been presented as viable alternatives to face masks. They allow for easier breathing and may cause less irritation—especially in the heat—than a cotton mask. But new research suggests shields don’t do a good job of filtering water droplets.
You might see doctors wearing face shields over their masks. This makes sense because the shield will stop any surprise droplets or projectiles that a patient may expel in close range. The shield blocks the droplets from direct contact with their eyes.
But shields allow plenty of opportunity for particles to enter underneath and through the sides. Once the droplets are in there, they can get trapped and even become more of a risk. That’s why you’ll see doctors with an N-95 mask underneath: it prevents droplet inhalation.
And let’s not forget that the idea of protecting your airways is not necessarily to prevent you from inhaling the virus, but rather dispelling it. Masks contain the coverage required to block the droplets you exhale.
When you sneeze or breathe out with a face shield, you’re blowing droplets everywhere plus breathing in ambient air.
Being selective with masks is also worthwhile. Masks with an air valve, as you might have guessed, don’t do a good job of preventing water droplet transmission. These masks miss the point entirely, so opt for designs without valves.
Masks and all the other changes COVID has caused aren’t convenient. You could be getting to the point where you feel like enough is enough.
But the virus is still a threat.
A little bit more sacrifice on your part could make a huge difference in how long this thing sticks around and whether you can ditch the mask for good!