The White House coronavirus task force is preparing to announce updated guidelines prepared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommending some Americans wear some type of facial covering in public, according to new reports.
This change is just the latest in efforts to combat the spread of COVID-19 in areas hit the hardest by the novel coronavirus.
“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,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told the Fox News morning program “Fox & Friends” on Friday.
“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.”
He added, “This is an addendum and in addition to the physical separation, not as a substitute for it.”
People have been advised for weeks by the Trump administration, the CDC and the World Health Organization that only people who are ill or have underlying health conditions should wear face masks to preserve equipment for health care workers.
In response to reports that the CDC is now considering recommending Americans wear masks made of fabric in public, former CDC Chief Medical Officer Dr. Robert Amler told Fox News that if the guidelines are recommended, people should “respect it.”
“I can tell you having drafted many CDC guidelines over the years that these are done very carefully and on the best available evidence,” he said. “Those guidelines, when they do go out, are not casual or frivolous.”
“It’s protective for people around you — that’s going to be the case whether or not there is a shortage.”
The wearing of face masks by the general public has been debated because of the shortage of personal protective equipment available for health care workers.
President Donald Trump on Thursday evening invoked the Defense Production Act to force 3M to ramp up production of masks.
The order directed acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf to “use any and all authority available under the Act to acquire, from any appropriate subsidiary or affiliate of 3M Company, the number of N-95 respirators that the Administrator determines to be appropriate.”
Trump’s order came after the director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, Jared Moskowitz, told Fox News host Tucker Carlson that he discovered 3M was favoring foreign buyers and had refused to sell him the masks for health care workers on the frontlines in Florida.
“This is about the executives who decided not to put America first and it’s going to have devastating consequences,” Moskowitz said.
The company said it has already been working with the Trump administration on getting more masks to the U.S.
“We have been working closely with the Administration to do exactly that, and we appreciate the authorities in the DPA that provide a framework for us to expand even further the work we are doing in response to the global pandemic crisis,” 3M said in a statement. “We look forward to working with FEMA to implement yesterday’s order.”
As of Friday morning, there were over 261,000 cases of COVID-19 in the United States, according to data from Johns Hopkins.
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