(LifeSiteNews) – Eighteen months after the beginning of “15 days to slow the spread,” the New York Times has questioned the benefit of putting up plastic barriers at stores, schools, and businesses.
“Intuition tells us a plastic shield would be protective against germs,” the Times said August 19. “But scientists who study aerosols, air flow and ventilation say that much of the time, the barriers don’t help and probably give people a false sense of security. And sometimes the barriers can make things worse.”
The Grey Lady cited several studies from this summer that questioned the benefits of the plastic barriers.
Desk barriers in a Georgia school, for example, did not substantially slow down the spread of COVID.
Johns Hopkins-affiliated researchers, meanwhile, concluded that “closing cafeterias and playgrounds and the use of desk shields are associated with lower risk reductions (or even risk increases).”
Pre-COVID research, apparently ignored by public health officials, had studied air flow and virus transmission in office settings or medical facilities, and frequently said barriers were not effective.
Researchers looked at a hospital ward and found “physical partitions between beds” theoretically could help, but “higher tracer concentrations are present in both the vicinity and downstream of the source.”
Engineering experts told the Times those barriers are not effective.
“If you have a forest of barriers in a classroom, it’s going to interfere with proper ventilation of that room,” Linsey Marr, a Virginia Tech professor, told the Times. “Everybody’s aerosols are going to be trapped and stuck there and building up, and they will end up spreading beyond your own desk.”
While many schools have installed barriers, they do not protect students from COVID.
“If there are aerosol particles in the classroom air, those shields around students won’t protect them,” University of California-Davis engineering dean Richard Corsi said. “Depending on the air flow conditions in the room, you can get a downdraft into those little spaces that you’re now confined in and cause particles to concentrate in your space.”
Students are also at a minimal risk of contracting, having severe reactions or dying from COVID, which is why one health researcher has urged parents to avoid vaccinating their children.
“If children are infected with the virus, they are typically asymptomatic, and the disease is very mild and non-consequential,” Paul Alexander, a health researcher and former Health and Human Services (HHS) COVID advisor, wrote recently. “However, the potential harm from vaccines is severe. Just look at the cases of myocarditis and pericarditis that have emerged in our teens, especially boys, due to the vaccines.”
Stores embraced barriers with minimal evidence
The barriers, like masks, can be seen as another example of something that makes people feel safer without corresponding evidence.
WebMD profiled a dry-cleaning business in September 2020 that boasted of its use of Plexiglass barriers.
“It makes me feel safer, knowing I work for people who care not only about the health of the customers but also the workers,” said Kayla Stark, an employee of Milt & Edie’s Drycleaners in Burbank, California.
“Grocers were among the first retailers to adopt the plexiglass barrier,” Dave Heylen with the California Grocers Association boasted to the medical website. The National Grocers Association “polled members when the pandemic hit and found that 84% of those who replied had put plastic shields in their stores,” WebMD reported.
“There are, to my knowledge, no peer-reviewed studies assessing the efficacy of these barriers,” industrial hygiene consultant and medical doctor Michael Fischman told WebMD in September. That did not stop him from recommending them, however.
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