On November 24, the New York State Department of Health (DOH) issued an advisory (attached) recommending the use of eye protection by health care personnel (in all health care settings, including hospitals, nursing homes, and dialysis centers) for all patient interactions. The use of eye protection with facemasks will reduce unnecessary health care worker furloughs from interactions with patients or residents who are unknowingly asymptomatic, pre-symptomatic, or symptomatic but undiagnosed with COVID-19.

The advisory notes that face shields or goggles should be used and that standard eyeglasses are not personal protective equipment (PPE) and are not sufficient eye protection. If there is insufficient PPE for all health care encounters, the shortage should be documented, and eye protection reserved for and considered required for the care of patients with symptoms consistent with COVID-19. Priority PPE settings include, but are not limited to, emergency departments, outpatient clinics, practices that routinely see patients with acute infectious diseases, and nursing homes that recently had residents or staff test positive for COVID-19.

Further DOH guidance on extended use, cleaning, and disinfecting of eye protection to conserve PPE is available here, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene guidance on conserving PPE is available here, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance is available here. Further information and the text of the advisory on the universal use of eye protection is attached.