CINCINNATI (FOX19) - Mask mandates have dominated the national conversation in recent weeks as governors around the country look to give their residents, especially their educators, an extra tool in the battle against COVID-19.
But at least locally, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear and Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine are keen to avert the alliterative phrase in favor of something more agnostic: ‘Facial coverings.'
For good reason, according to Dr. Will Sawyer.
Sawyer is a Tri-State internist who said cloth masks aren’t enough to keep teachers or students safe when they return to school in the fall.
Instead, Sawyer sides with the face shield.
“These [Sawyer holds up his fingers] are the 10 most deadly weapons, which is why you do not want to touch your ‘t-zone,' your eyes, nose and mouth,” he said. “It’s self-inoculation.”
Sawyer has spend the last 20 years talking about infectious diseases and campaigning for better hand hygiene. He started the Henry the Hand Foundation to create educational materials for children and adults alike.
“I am adamant,” he said, that a school must implement the harm-reduction strategy that we have developed. They must wear full face shields for their protection.
Sawyer argues face shields, including the reusable model he has developed himself, are more comfortable than masks.
He said they’re easier and less distracting to use while working. He also notes they allow students to see their teachers — and teachers to see their students — without interfering with eye glasses.
More, they protect us from something masks do not: ourselves.
“What happens is the constant fidgeting, cross-contaminating your eyes when wearing a nose and mouth masks,” he said.
Sawyer adds the masks aren’t just useful against COVID-19, they should represent a paradigm change in how infectious diseases are battled.
“We can change the face of infectious disease,” he said. “(...) This is really to help sustain our health and wellness over time.”