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Public Evaluation of Face Shield (Visor) Use whilst Shopping during the Coronavirus Pandemic 2: one patient test group and two friend test groups in England

Published: 31st May 2020

Covid infects through mouth, nose and eyes, a face shield ( visor) covers these areas.

The COVID-19 pandemic advice to the public recommended physical distancing and hand hygiene in early March 2020 and lock-down later in March. The initial national advice was not to use face coverings, unless in a health care environment, as there was no evidence for mask use. Pictures on UK national TV introduced the public to health care workers routinely wearing masks, sometimes with face visors (called face shields in the US)  when undertaking health care procedures. In May 2020 the conversation changed with WHO and UK Prime Minister advising people to wear a face covering when unable to maintain physical distancing esp. when in enclosed environments like shops. My own experience was that it was impossible to physically distance at all times in a supermarket or at work. Using a face mask, I touched my face more than without, mainly to adjust nasal fit, I was aware of gaps around the mask and  unsure how long the mask maintains integrity over a half day of work. I therefore use a face shield for routine patient and staff contact and have one in the car for supermarket use. I wondered if public use of  face shields is preferable and devised an evaluation. Face shields used were medical grade. We had 3 groups evaluate their use of face shields whilst shopping:

  1. friends test of 12 neighbours and aquaintances in Bolton, who also piloted the evaluation. A rapid response was printed in BMJ with an outline of results at:
  2.  friends test 30 aquaintances  in Sussex,  by colleague, RN Mary Elliott.
  3.  randomised selection of 30 patients aged 60-70 years old  on Silverdale Medical Practice list                                                              General evaluation was favourable amongst the groups, people valued choice of face covering depending on their circumstances and results are at:

There is a role for recommending face shields to the public as an option and future evaluation amongst extremely vulnerable patients. For example, those in wheelchairs where cough plume will fall downwards but face- shields offer forehead seal, those who require to lip- read, have difficulty adjusting and tying masks, those who drool into masks, those caring for people with a chronic cough or tracheostomy etc.


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