Final Presidential Debate: Donald Trump's Claim About Coronavirus Protective Goggles Left the Internet Puzzled

During the final presidential debate between President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, the president made a reference to "goggles" that confused some on social media. Trump said he was being "congratulated by the heads of many countries" for his response to the coronavirus pandemic, explicitly pointing to the distribution of personal protective equipment. The coronavirus can spread through the eye, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has only advised Americans to wear face masks to slow the spread.

“We have a problem that’s a worldwide problem. This is a worldwide problem. But I’ve been congratulated by the heads of many countries on what we’ve been able to do. If you take a look at what we’ve done in terms of goggles, and masks, and gowns, and everything else,” Trump said early on in the debate, notes the Daily Dot. “And in particular ventilators. We’re now making ventilators all over the world. Thousands and thousands a month, distributing them all over the world. It will go away, and as I say, we’re rounding the turn, we’re rounding the corner. It’s going away.”

According to the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, the coronavirus can spread through the eyes. However, goggles have never been recommended to wear during the pandemic. Instead, the CDC has advised people to wear face masks. Doctors and nurses have also been wearing face shields, which Trump may have been referring to.

The first part of the debate centered on the pandemic, with Trump insisting that the country has to open up. "We can't lock ourselves up in a basement like Joe does," Trump said, before going on to claim New York City has become a "ghost town" because of strict guidelines there. Biden responded by praising the city "in terms of turning the curve down in terms of the number of people dying."

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A recent study in JAMA Ophthalmology suggested eye protection could help slow the spread of the coronavirus, reports Medical Xpress. However, Lisa Maragakis, M.D., M.P.H., senior director of infection prevention at the Johns Hopkins Health System, wrote in her commentary on the paper that it should not be considered "conclusive proof" that people should start wearing goggles or glasses to "obtain any substantial protection from SARS-CoV-2 infection."

"The study looks at a time very early in the pandemic before universal masking and physical distancing became common prevention practices," Maragakis wrote of the study. "There may be confounding variables or an alternate explanation for the apparent protective effect of eyeglasses, and the data on the general population—against which the eyeglasses-wearing habits of the study patients are compared—were collected years ago in a different region of China."