Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in an interview Wednesday that wearing goggles or an eye shield in addition to a face mask would provide the fullest protection against COVID-19.
Fauci told ABC News that people have mucosa not just in the nose and mouth, but also in the eyes, so those seeking “perfect protection” should use a physical barrier that also protects the eyes.
“Theoretically you should protect all of the mucosal surfaces, so if you have goggles or an eye shield, you should use it,” he said, adding that while “it’s not universally recommended, but if you really want to be complete, you should probably use it.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently recommends wearing eye protection only in health care settings, noting in its infection control guidance that health care professionals should “put on eye protection (i.e., goggles or a face shield that covers the front and sides of the face) upon entry to the patient room or care area.” A July 15 update to this guidance warned that protective eyewear that has gaps between the glasses and face would not provide full protection from splashes and sprays that might carry the virus.
The CDC says in its universal guidance on protective measures against the potentially deadly bug that the best way to prevent getting sick is to avoid being exposed to the virus, listing social distancing, washing hands frequently, disinfecting surfaces, and mask-wearing.
In a note on considerations for mask-wearing, the CDC says “some people may choose to use a face shield when sustained close contact with other people is expected,” and as such recommends shields that wrap around the sides of the face and extend below the chin if they don’t wear a mask.
“CDC does not recommend use of face shields for normal everyday activities or as a substitute for cloth face coverings,” the guidance states.
Fauci suggested in the ABC interview that one of the reasons protective eyewear hasn’t been officially recommended yet is “it’s so easy for people to just make a cloth mask.”
Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus response coordinator, reinforced Fauci’s recommendation on goggles and face shields in a Thursday interview on “Fox & Friends.”
“The mask protects others, to block those droplets and block that contamination that happens when you speak or sing or talk, or even breathe,” Birx said in the interview.
“The thing about the face shields—we think that could protect the individuals and that it would decrease the ability for them to touch their eyes and spread the virus as well as those droplets coming towards them. So there are two different technologies for two different reasons,” Birx said.