The White House Coronavirus Task Force may be preparing to tell Americans to start covering their faces in public, despite earlier messaging that the precaution was ineffective.
CDC memos on the measure have been circulating in the White House according to the Washington Post, and task force members may be preparing to make a public statement. When President Donald Trump was asked about wearing masks at Tuesday’s press briefing, he did not mention any plans to make a recommendation. (RELATED: White House Anticipates Between 100,000 And 240,000 Coronavirus Deaths)
“My feeling is, if people want to do it, there’s certainly no harm to it. I would say do it,” Trump said. “But use a scarf if you want, you know? Rather than going out and getting a mask or whatever.”
@wolfblitzer: Should all Americans be wearing masks?
VP Pence: CDC is looking at the issue of masks as a protective move. We will have a recommendation for the president at the appropriate time.
— Yamiche Alcindor (@Yamiche) April 1, 2020
Task force member Dr. Deborah Birx cautioned against people wearing masks in public in March, saying masks should be reserved for doctors and hospitals in a pandemic. She also said masks could cause people to become more lax about social distancing measures while in public. The six-feet social distancing rule doesn’t go away for those covering their faces.
As Trump mentioned, however, cloth coverings as simple as scarves are up to the task of trapping droplets expelled from exhaling, coughing, and sneezing, WaPo reports. (RELATED: Birx Clears The Air: Governments Were Slow To Respond To Coronavirus ‘Because’ China Covered It Up)
As a result, members of the administration are walking back their original message and appear to be laying the groundwork to tell Americans to mask up.
“Particularly now that we’re getting some inklings that there’s transmission of infection from an asymptomatic person who is not coughing, who is not sneezing, who just appears well. Well, then how do you think that’s happening?” Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN. “It very well could be aerosol. Maybe not aerosol, you know, that goes on for hours. But even the slight aerosol in which you’re talking to somebody. If that’s the case, we should at least look at the data and try to make a decision about [recommending masks].”