Doctors say face shields or glasses in addition to masks to help prevent spread of COVID-19

Updated: Aug. 4, 2020 at 6:43 PM EDT
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SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - Public health officials continue to stress the importance of wearing face masks to slow the spread of coronavirus. However, some now say those face coverings alone might not be enough. We may need additional personal protective equipment in some settings.

Masks are still the primary way of protection from spreading COVID-19, but now doctors say if you can, you should also be protecting your eyes, like wearing a face shield. Especially if you’re in the healthcare field, a first responder or in places with close, consistent exposure like in schools.

“The issue of a face shield has always been a form of protection. Unfortunately, because there was such a shortage in personal protection equipment, the public was informed that we really didn’t need these, but that is not so,” explained Epidemiologist Dr. Scott Hopes.

Doctors say, personal protective equipment should’ve been made a priority for everyone since March. We know that the virus enters the body through the nose and mouth by air droplets from an infected person, but the CDC is now warning that there is evidence that people are catching the virus from droplets floating in the air that can enter through your eyes.

“The health department says that you’re potentially exposed if you’ve been around somebody with COVID-19, and you’re in close proximity for more than about 15 minutes. So, if you’re a person, maybe because of your job, you have to be in close proximity with people for long periods of time, then a face shield might makes sense in addition to a mask,” Dr. Marissa Levine, Public Heath Medicine professor at the University of South Florida, said.

it is important to note though, that a face shield is not an alternative to a face mask though. Wearing a mask not only protects you, but others around you.

“It doesn’t keep from your respiratory droplets from coming out. It does protect you from droplets or particles from coming in, so if you want to get the ultimate protection, you need to be like healthcare workers and wear both the face shield and the face mask,” Dr. Levine explained.

Plus, it’s also possible to get infected by touching a contaminated surface and then touching your mouth, nose and now, eyes.

“That’s why it’s important for teaching your children, and even for us adults, that we thoroughly wash our hands frequently throughout the day. Inevitably, we all reach our fingers towards our eyes,” said Dr. Hopes.

Doctors say social distancing is still the best safety measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19. If you have to be in close proximity with other people, wearing anything to cover your mouth and nose, and you can even wear glasses to protect your eyes, as well.

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