Dr. Joseph Fair is a virologist and epidemiologist who has been hospitalized with coronavirus. Fair, who is also an NBC News medical contributor, believes he contracted COVID-19 through his eyes during a crowded flight because he was wearing a mask and gloves at the time of his suspected infection.
Fair, 42, was flying home to New Orleans on a plane that "had us packed in like sardines." Fair noted that the plane was so crowded that he "instinctively" probably should have disembarked and not flown on that flight.
"I had a mask on, I had gloves on, I did my normal wipes routine ... but obviously, you can still get it through your eyes," Fair told NBC News from his hospital bed. "And of course I wasn't wearing goggles on the flight."
Despite having his nose and mouth covered during the flight, and not going anywhere after arriving home, Fair became sick a few days after his flight. Initially, he was experiencing flu-like symptoms that started with a loss of appetite. Fair grew extremely worried when he could only breathe in 25% of the oxygen he was trying to take in.
Fair was taken to a hospital and was in critical condition until Wednesday. Fair asked his doctors not to be intubated, and was given oxygen instead.
Fair was tested for coronavirus four times, but he never tested positive for COVID-19. "These tests are not 100% accurate," Fair said. "I think our tests are so very imperfect, and we're missing a lot of cases because of that. I waited a bit of time, so there's a good possibility that there's no detectable virus in my blood system."
"That's one of the three known routes of getting this infection that we just don't pay a lot of attention to; we tend to pay attention to the nose and mouth because that is the most common route," Fair said of getting a COVID-19 infection through his eyes. "But you know, droplets landing on your eyes are just as infectious."
"Particles most often enter through your nose or mouth as well as your eyes," according to WebMD.
Fair said he's a healthy individual who runs up to 10 miles a day and exercises up to six days a week. "If it can take even me down, it can take anybody down," Fair told the "TODAY" show. "That doesn't mean to say that it will kill you. You don't wanna have it, that's all I can tell you."
Dr. Russell Blaylock, a former neurosurgeon, wrote an op-ed that warning face masks are not only ineffective against COVID-19, but in certain circumstance can be potentially dangerous and impair a person's immune system.
Dr. Joseph Fair Details His COVID-19 Battle: 'If It Can Take Me Down, It Can Take Anybody' | TODAY www.youtube.com