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Plexiglass shields are everywhere, but it’s not clear how much they help

Plexiglass shields have become ubiquitous at offices, grocery stores and restaurants across the country in the coronavirus age. They were even installed on the vice presidential debate stage last week.



a group of people standing in a kitchen: Businesses and workplaces say plexiglass dividers are one way they are keeping people safe against the spread of the coronavirus.


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Businesses and workplaces say plexiglass dividers are one way they are keeping people safe against the spread of the coronavirus.

Given that they’re just about everywhere, you may wonder how effective they actually are.

Businesses and workplaces have pointed to plexiglass dividers as one tool they are using to keep people safe against the spread of the virus. But it’s important to know there’s little data to support their effectiveness, and even if there were, the barriers have their limits, according to epidemiologists and aerosol scientists, who study airborne transmission of the virus.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has offered guidance to workplaces to “install physical barriers, such as clear plastic sneeze guards, where feasible” as a way to “reduce exposure to hazards,” and the Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued similar guidance.

That’s because the plexiglass shields can in theory protect workers against large respiratory droplets that spread if someone sneezes or coughs next to them, say epidemiologists, environmental engineers and aerosol scientists. Coronavirus is thought to spread from person to person “mainly through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks,” according to the CDC.

But those benefits haven’t been proven, according to Wafaa El-Sadr, professor of epidemiology and medicine at Columbia University. She says there have not been any studies that examined how effective plexiglass barriers are at blocking large droplets.

Moreover, the bigger problem is that even if they do, that’s not the only way that the coronavirus spreads. Last week, the CDC released new guidelines saying that the coronavirus can spread through aerosols — tiny particles containing the virus that float in the air and can travel beyond six feet — that are released when people breathe, talk or sneeze.

Most droplets people release when they talk or breathe are in a “size range that will flow past the barrier,” said Pratim Biswas, an aerosol scientist at Washington University in St. Louis.

The dividers “do not address all possible modes of transmission, such as aerosol transmission, or fully protect anyone from Covid-19,” the University of Washington’s Environmental Health and Safety Department said in a July review of the benefits and limitations of plexiglass barriers at campus facilities.

There’s also another problem in some cases: the size of the barriers. Marissa Baker, an assistant professor at the University of Washington, has been conducting a separate study of coronavirus safety measures at nine grocery stores in Seattle and seven in Portland, Oregon, each month since May.

She has observed that plexiglass shields at cash registers and self-checkout stations are often too small to even prevent droplet transmission between customers and workers.

“Some are smaller and don’t even cover the nose of a tall individual,” she said. “The airborne particles are going to

Cy-Fair ISD school board approves additional desk shields for second half of semester

With more students returning for the second half of the fall semester, the Cy-Fair ISD board of trustees approved the purchase of additional desk and tabletop protective dividers for protection during the COVID-19 pandemic.

After Trustee Tom Jackson asked about the desk shields’ effectiveness, Chief of Staff Teresa Hull said the shields have been approved by Memorial Hermann doctors collaborating with the school district and advising the district on precautionary COVID-19 measures.


“When we started looking at the number of students that we anticipated would be returning to campus, especially the second marking period, we reached out to Memorial Hermann and asked that very question,” Hull said. “They felt very strongly that that absolutely was a layer of protection; when you couple it with the mask, it definitely is helping us minimize the number students that may be identified as a close contact (during contact tracing).”

Previously, Chief Financial Officer Karen Smith said the district is working on recovering funds used on COVID-19 precautions and online learning.

“Because we didn’t have face to face (instruction) in the building there are costs we simply did not incur,” Smith said. “But if you recall we have instructional packets that we delivered. We purchased PPE when we were planning for this before COVID actually hit so bad that the schools were closed.”

Cy-Fair ISD has lost $2.2 million in revenue from food services, $16.1 million is expected to be spent from the general fund for the 2020-2021 school year, $500,000 was spent on personal protective equipment and $5.2 million for social distancing measures and more according to the presentation from Oct. 8.

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5 Fitness Tips Brooke Shields Swears by to Look and Feel Stronger Than Ever at 55

Photo credit: Instagram
Photo credit: Instagram

From Prevention

  • Brooke Shields, 55, recently opened up about her fitness routine to Prevention.com.

  • The model and actress says her workouts have changed over time, especially after having a partial knee replacement at 53.

  • Shields now focuses on low-impact workouts and building stability and strength.

Brooke Shields has made her health a top priority—but when the coronavirus pandemic changed life as we knew it, she had to get creative to keep up with her fitness routine.

“When COVID hit, I couldn’t go to a gym or see a trainer, and I needed to keep some semblance of control in my life,” Shields told Prevention.com in partnership with Life Happens for Life Insurance Awareness Month.

In 2018, Shields had surgery for a partial right knee replacement. “I never thought I’d have knee problems, and I’ve got nothing but knee problems,” she says, explaining that her knee function has gotten incrementally worse over the years. Overhauling her approach to fitness has been a key aspect of her recovery.

So, she began virtually working with trainer Ngo Okafor and sharing her at-home sweat sessions on Instagram Live—building an active social media community along the way. “Doing these little workouts was sort of the only area that I felt I had an ounce of control,” she explained.

Shields took her workouts indoors throughout quarantine, using equipment you could find anywhere, like water bottles, soup cans, and resistance bands. “I’ve always maintained a very active life,” the former dancer says. “I’ve done it for health and strength reasons, because I noticed that I’m also healthier minded when I’m physically active.”

Ahead, Shields dishes on her top fitness tips at 55.

1. Learn to activate different muscle groups.

To help regain strength in her knees, Shields began educating herself with a trainer. “I really started reintroducing myself to the many different muscles we have in our bodies that lay dormant or don’t become activated,” she explains. “I started feeling much more balanced and stronger, but instead of being incredibly dominant in one area and weaker in another, I became much more overall activated as far as my muscles were concerned.”

The actress said targeting areas such as her quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and hips has helped strengthen her knees, and focusing on her core has reduced back pain.

2. Low-impact workouts are key.

“Before I got my partial knee replacement, I worked out for a year just to prepare myself so that my recovery would be faster,” Shields says. “So I exercised to maintain the strength and the stability in and around the area that’s been the most compromised.”

The actress says her left knee now seems to be “heading towards full replacement,” so she’s working to build up strength and stability with that knee, too. “I hope that maybe I will be able to avoid a full replacement by doing every other thing that’s an option for me,” she says.

Strength and stability are key, so she focuses on low-impact workouts