Doctor Suggests Football Helmets Outfitted With Surgical Shields

Mike Hogan

No idea is too ridiculous for the NFL when it comes to coronavirus safety precautions.

After the nation's leading infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci expressed uncertainty about a football season recently, it’s possible that the league will take anything into consideration to ensure health and safety at this point.

Dr. David Aronoff, an infectious disease physician at Vanderbilt University, has an idea: surgical face shields inside of football helmets.

High efficiency surgical masks and shields, Aronoff said, can be very effective in slowing transmission of viruses.

“The virus can’t get through solid plastic like that,” he told AllTitans.

The best way to slow the spread of COVID-19 is to socially distance. That is nearly impossible in a close contact sport like football. If distance can’t be created, people must physically block the virus from entering their bodies by protecting themselves with a face covering.

The issue is to find a way to fit such a thing inside of a football helmet.

“It’s a bit of an engineering challenge, how you can create masks where you can incorporate those sort of face shields that prevents transmission,” Aronoff said. “Maybe the shield somehow comes below the chin. The helmet would come around the head as it normally does. But I think shielding is one of the main issues.”

However, any prevention a shield may offer will be contingent on a number of things, the biggest being frequent, thorough hand hygiene. If players touch their faces or rub their eyes, for example, the benefit of a face shield essentially would be canceled out.

“Players may inoculate themselves by getting the virus on their fingers and touching their eyes, nose or mouth,” Aronoff said. “Those are common behaviors, that we touch our face. So, training people to avoid touching their faces unless they have to. And if they have to, they must sanitize their hands. Hand sanitizer will be important.”

That may be the most important concept for players, coaches and others to grasp.

“Obviously, football is a contact sport,” Aronoff said. “There are a lot of opportunities for transmission.Participate in good hand hygiene. That may be a source of stress for players, but that could help them for getting inadvertently infected, or infecting others.”