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Your Health First: Face masks or shields?

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Face masks are becoming a more and more common sight, a staple of an open economy in several states.

And in North Dakota, they are an optional layer of protection to help keep our most vulnerable citizens safe.

But they can be awkward to wear, if not outright uncomfortable.

There is another option, a face shield: a clear plastic barrier secured around your forehead that drapes over your face.

We spoke with Sanford Health Infectious Disease Consultant Dr. Noe Mateo to find out if a face shield is as effective as a mask, if not more.

He says the virus is most often contracted by breathing it in, so covering your mouth and nose completely is key. Because a mask covers the nose and mouth more completely, Dr. Mateo says if he had to choose between that or shield to wear in public, he says go with a mask.

“I think there’s a lot of concern that wearing a mask is not really needed, and you know, if there was no virus floating around, I’d say, ‘Sure it’s not needed’. But you don’t know if it’s floating around or not. We have a rule of thumb in infectious diseases, that applies to TB but the same statement can be said for COVID-19: You’re not going to catch COVID-19 from someone you know has it. You’re going to catch it from someone who you don’t know has it,” Dr. Mateo explained.

He says the effectiveness of everyone wearing a mask in public has been proven. The Infectious Disease Doctor says in several places where masks were mandated, infection rates decreased within four weeks.

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