Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, is recommending the use of face shields along with masks to protect against COVID-19 infection.
Face shields can offer more protection to the wearer than cloth face coverings, which are intended to prevent asymptomatic individuals from spreading coronavirus to others.
“The mask protects others, to block those droplets and block that contamination that happens when you speak or sing or talk, or even breathe,” Birx said on "Fox & Friends" Thursday morning.
“The thing about the face shields — we think that could protect the individuals and that it would decrease the ability for them to touch their eyes and spread the virus as well as those droplets coming towards them. So there are two different technologies for two different reasons.”
Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease doctor and member of the White House coronavirus task force, recommended the use of eye shields or goggles Wednesday.
"If you have goggles or an eye shield, you should use it. It's not universally recommended, but if you really want to be complete, you should probably use it if you can."
The mucosal surfaces of the eyes, mouth and nose are all entry points for COVID-19 infection. Since masks only cover the mouth and nose, shields or goggles would offer added protection to the eyes, Fauci noted.
"You have mucosa in the nose, mucosa in the mouth, but you also have mucosa in the eye," he added. "Theoretically, you should protect all the mucosal surfaces."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently only recommends the use of cloth face coverings for the general public, but notes that “some people may choose to use a face shield when sustained close contact with other people is expected.”
The CDC’s guidance does not recommend the use of face shields for normal everyday activities or as a substitute for cloth face coverings.
If face shields are used without a mask, the guidance states, it should wrap around the sides of the face and extend below the chin. Otherwise, a mask should be worn with the face shield.