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Face shields not as effective as masks

I seem to remember seeing something about how those plastic face shields aren’t as effective as masks. They still seem to be quite popular, however. What’s the latest?

— Via email

On Oct. 19, the Oregon Health Authority issued new recommendations for face coverings, and it included some pretty blunt words about face shields.

“Face shields can be very good at blocking droplets that individuals release, but they are not as effective at limiting the release of aerosols that can go around the shield,” the release says.

In this context, “aerosols” are airborne particles that can be suspended in the air, as opposed to droplets that are expelled and can either be blocked or fall onto a surface.

“Because the face shield does not block aerosols from entering on the sides and bottom, it is less effective than a cloth face covering and therefore not recommended except in limited circumstances,” OHA told Since You Asked in an email.

Those limited circumstances include when an individual has a medical condition that prevents them from wearing a typical mask or face covering, when people need to see mouth and tongue motions in order to communicate, or when an individual is speaking to an audience for a short period of time and clear communication “isn’t otherwise possible,” OHA says.

Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; or by email to youasked@rosebudmedia.com. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.