A University of Iowa researcher says the country could reopen more quickly and safely if everyone wore a clear plastic face shield.

Doctor Michael Edmond, chief quality officer at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, says a universal face shield may reduce coronavirus transmission and could allow relaxing of social distancing measures.

Edmond, a U-I infectious disease professor, says face shields have several advantages. “They’re more durable than face masks,” Edmond says. “The medical face masks really don’t last very long at all. Cloth masks can be reused and laundered, but face shields can just be wiped off.”

Face shields cover the eyes and prevent people from touching their faces, and face shields are readily available. Edmond says he’s working on modeling studies to determine if his theories on face shield use prove valid.

“If every person were in a face shield, we would reduce transmission of the virus to the point that some of these other more drastic things that we have to do like restricting people’s movements, those could be relaxed somewhat.” Volunteers in Iowa are making cloth masks and plastic face shields by the thousands for distribution to hospital workers, paramedics and other first responders.

(By Katarina Sostaric, Iowa Public Radio)