The debate over whether Americans should wear face masks to control coronavirus transmission has been settled. Governments and businesses now require or at least recommend them in many public settings. But as parts of the country reopen, some doctors want you to consider another layer of personal protective equipment in your daily life: clear plastic face shields.
In Singapore, preschool students and their teachers will receive face shields when they return to school next month. Local health experts recommended teachers in Philadelphia wear shields when schools reopen, and a teachers union in Palo Alto, Calif. requested them as well.
If you think about it, “the face mask is the condom of our generation,” says Brian Castrucci, the president of the de Beaumont Foundation, a public-health nonprofit. Castrucci spent a decade working in state and local health departments, and he remembers when the HIV epidemic made condoms mainstream in the United States. No one was especially thrilled about it, but as the dangers of unprotected sex became clear, people came to accept them.
The same can now be said of face masks, which have gone from seeming like a silly overreaction to a ubiquitous pandemic necessity. Parents are pulling them onto their toddlers. Waiters are wearing them. Pool-goers might don them. There’s even a disturbing-looking contraption that lets you eat with one on.
Other health organizations recommend cloth face masks for some categories of healthcare as well. Cloth masks are recommended for healthcare workers who are not providing direct patient care. This includes teammates who bring supplies to our units, working in our kitchens and cafeterias, and our pharmacy technicians.
We therefore strongly believe that the face mask need is here to stay.