Just as much of the country is getting used to wearing face masks in public in an attempt to slow the transmission of COVID-19, Dr. Anthony Fauci suggested an even higher level of protection: goggles.
During in interview on ABC News with Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton, Fauci said that while it's not a widely-recommended practice, the safest thing for people to do is also to cover their eyes.
"If you really want perfect protection of your mucosal surfaces…you have mucosa in the mouth, mucosa in the nose, but you also have mucosa in the eye," Fauci said. "And that's one of the things, theoretically, you should protect all the mucosal surfaces. So if you have goggles or an eye shield, you should use it.
"It's not universally recommended, but if you really want to be complete, you should probably use it if you can," Fauci said.
The recommendation to wear eye protection is the latest step in a dramatic evolution by Fauci on this issue, which started months ago when he assured the American public that there was no reason to walk around wearing a face mask.
Now, states led by both Republicans and Democrats have mandated mask use in public, as have numerous localities and businesses. Even President Donald Trump has worn a mask publicly, calling it "patriotic" to do so.
Still, the science on whether masks, particularly cloth masks, slow or stop the spread of COVID-19 is conflicting, at best, and as a result mask usage is still a divisive issue. Georgia Republican Gov. Brian Kemp went so far as to ban cities and counties from mandating masks, and sued the mayor of Atlanta when she refused to back off the city's mask mandate.
Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday. He has been opposed to wearing masks, but has worn them occasionally recently. He said he suspected it was actually the use of the mask, rather than all the times he wasn't wearing one, that caused him to get infected.
"I can't help but wonder if by keeping a mask on and keeping it in place, I might have put some germs — some virus — onto the mask and breathed it in," Gohmert told KETK-TV.
A Harvard CAPS/Harris poll released Monday found that 79% of people would support a national mask mandate, and 70% of people support local enforcement of mask mandates with fines.