Comparison of virus aerosol concentrations across a face shield worn on a healthcare personnel during a simulated patient cough

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Internal Medicine

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Infection control and hospital epidemiology


BACKGROUND: Patients diagnosed with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) aerosolize severe acute respiratory coronavirus virus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) via respiratory efforts, expose, and possibly infect healthcare personnel (HCP). To prevent transmission of SARS-CoV-2 HCP have been required to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) during patient care. Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, face shields were used as an approach to control HCP exposure to SARS-CoV-2, including eye protection. METHODS: An MS2 bacteriophage was used as a surrogate for SARS-CoV-2 and was aerosolized using a coughing machine. A simulated HCP wearing a disposable plastic face shield was placed 0.41 m (16 inches) away from the coughing machine. The aerosolized virus was sampled using SKC biosamplers on the inside (near the mouth of the simulated HCP) and the outside of the face shield. The aerosolized virus collected by the SKC Biosampler was analyzed using a viability assay. Optical particle counters (OPCs) were placed next to the biosamplers to measure the particle concentration. RESULTS: There was a statistically significant reduction ( < .0006) in viable virus concentration on the inside of the face shield compared to the outside of the face shield. The particle concentration was significantly lower on the inside of the face shield compared to the outside of the face shield for 12 of the 16 particle sizes measured ( < .05). CONCLUSIONS: Reductions in virus and particle concentrations were observed on the inside of the face shield; however, viable virus was measured on the inside of the face shield, in the breathing zone of the HCP. Therefore, other exposure control methods need to be used to prevent transmission from virus aerosol.

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