When it comes to personal protective equipment, face masks are a given—but if you want even more protection, you may want to add a face shield to your routine, too, especially while traveling.
While face shields are not mandated at this time, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has recommended their use. “You should protect all the mucosal surfaces,” he said in a video interview with ABC. “You should use [shields] if you can.” In other words, while face masks protect your nose and mouth, your eyes are left unprotected; the respiratory droplets produced when someone coughs or sneezes can enter your body through the eyes.
“Coronavirus cannot penetrate the plastic,” adds Dr. David Aronoff, director of the division of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. “It blocks direct inoculation of the mouth, nose and eyes.”
It’s still possible to contract COVID-19 via air that comes in around or under the shield, which is why it’s essential to also wear a mask underneath. (Plus, airlines and trains still require face masks at this time.) A face shield is not a replacement, but a supplement to your face mask—and an undeniable upgrade to your personal protection while traveling. They have the added value of preventing you from touching your face and eyes, something that becomes even more difficult when you’re in public spaces for hours at a time, be it on an airplane or out for a hike.