If you want the best protection against COVID-19, you should wear a face shield or eye protection in addition to a face mask, Dr. Anthony Fauci said on Wednesday.
“If you have goggles or an eye shield, you should use it,” said Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, during an interview with ABC News.
It Spreads Through Eyes and Nose
Coronavirus is spread through respiratory droplets, which can cause infection when they’re inhaled or introduced into the mouth, nose or eyes by touching your face with infected hands. But it’s also thought airborne coronavirus could infect mucous membranes in the eye — a transmission mode we haven’t heard too much about amid recommendations to wear face masks in public.
“You have mucosa in the nose, mucosa in the mouth, but you also have mucosa in the eye,” said Fauci, a key member of the White House pandemic response team. “Theoretically, you should protect all the mucosal surfaces. So if you have goggles or an eye shield you should use it.”
Wearing face shields or goggles isn’t “universally recommended,” but that might change at some point, said Fauci.
“If you really want to be complete, you should probably use it if you can,” he added.
Easier to Clean
“People who wear masks are often touching their face, but with face shields this is not as much of an issue,” Dr. Amesh Adalja, senior scholar at John Hopkins Center for Health Security, told CNN on Monday. “Face shields are reusable and do not require [machine] washing — they can be more simply cleaned.”
Dr. Deborah Birx, another prominent member of the coronavirus response team, backed Fauci up during a Thursday morning Fox&Friends interview, when she recommended the use of face shields in addition to face masks.
“The mask protects others, to block those droplets and block that contamination that happens when you speak or sing or talk, or even breathe,” said Birx. “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.”
At the moment, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) only recommends cloth face coverings for the general public, but says “some people may choose to use a face shield when sustained close contact with other people is expected.”