As coronavirus cases climb, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now recommending that Americans cover their faces in public.
“CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission. CDC continues to study the spread and effects of the novel coronavirus across the United States,” the CDC said on its website (emphasis original).
The CDC said that it made the recommendation after studies showed many people who have the virus show no symptoms, which in medical jargon is called being asymptomatic.
“This means that the virus can spread between people interacting in close proximity — for example, speaking, coughing, or sneezing — even if those people are not exhibiting symptoms,” the CDC wrote.
In its new guidance, the CDC stressed two things — one, that compliance was recommended, but voluntary. The other is that the face coverings it wants all Americans to wear in public are not the same as N-95 masks.
“Cloth face coverings fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost can be used as an additional, voluntary public health measure,” the CDC wrote.
“The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators. Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance,” it wrote.
On Friday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said wearing a face covering is simply adding one more layer of protection.
“Because of some recent information that the virus can actually be spread even when people just speak as opposed to coughing and sneezing — the better part of valor is that when you’re out, when you can’t maintain that six-foot distance, to wear some sort of facial covering,” he said on “Fox & Friends.”
“The important point to emphasize though is that that should in no way ever take away from the availability of masks that are needed for the health care providers who are in real and present danger of getting infected from the people that they are taking care of.”
During Friday’s task force briefing, Trump spoke about the new guidance.
“In light of these studies, the CDC is advising the use of non-medical cloth face covering as an additional voluntary public health measure. So it’s voluntary; you don’t have to do it. They suggested for a period of time. But this is voluntary. I don’t think I’m going to be doing it,” Trump said.
“But you have a lot of ways — you can look at it as follows: The CDC is recommending that Americans wear a basic cloth or a fabric mask that can be either purchased online or simply made at home. Probably material that you’d have at home. … These face coverings can be easily washed or reused,” he said.
Trump noted that face coverings are not the same as the masks he is procuring for health care workers.
“I want to emphasize that the CDC is not recommending the use of medical-grade or surgical-grade masks, and we want that to be used for our great medical people that are working so hard and doing some job. Medical protective gear must be reserved for the front-line healthcare workers who are performing those vital services,” he said.
“So, the masks. So what I tried to give you is how we’re using data in a very granular way. And so there are — there is experiential data. When you look at communities that have oftentimes utilized masks — in general, for personal protection — from when they particularly are themselves sick and have used their mask in public. And we’ve looked at the rate of this COVID-19 in those populations. And then we’re looking at the scientific evidence to bring those two pieces together,” she said.
“Let me just say one thing though: The most important thing is the social distancing and washing your hands. And we don’t want people to get an artificial sense of protection, because they’re behind a mask. Because if they’re touching things — remember, your eyes are not in the masks.
“So if you’re touching things and then touching your eyes, you’re exposing yourself in the same way,” she said.
“So we don’t want people to feel like, ‘Oh, I’m wearing a mask. I’m protected and I’m protecting others.’ You may be protecting others, but don’t get a false sense of security that that mask is protecting you exclusively from getting infected,” she said.
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