Biden’s Top COVID Adviser: Many Cloth Face Coverings ‘Are Not Very Effective’

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Dr. Michael Osterholm, an epidemiologist who is a member of President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 Advisory Board, said on CNN Monday that many face masks are ineffective at preventing the spread of the virus.

CNN host John King asked Osterholm to address some of the confusion surrounding mask mandates. Some cities have brought back mask mandates for people regardless of vaccination status, while some Republican governors have banned the mandates. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently announced that they were recommending masks for many indoor settings, including for people who have been vaccinated.

Osterholm said that the country is in an “unfortunate situation” and that the most important thing to focus on is vaccinating as many people as possible. He said that he wants to “get rid of the term masking” because it “implies anything you put in front of your face works.” (RELATED: Dr. Anthony Fauci Says Two Masks Are Better Than One)

“And if I could just add a nuance to that, which hopefully doesn’t add more confusion, we know today that many of the face cloth coverings people wear are not very effective in reducing any of the virus movement in or out,” Osterholm added. “Either you’re breathing out or you’re breathing in.”

He said that it’s important to “talk about better masking” and explained that n-95 masks would do a lot to protect people from COVID-19.

So I think one of the things right now is we’ve just got to get a better handle on what does protect people and what doesn’t,” Osterholm said. 

Osterholm has made similar comments about cloth face coverings since the beginning of the pandemic but has called for people to stop citing him as a reason to not wear a mask. He emphasized that cloth face coverings should not be used as a substitute for more effective ways to prevent spreading the virus, like social distancing, and clarified that wearing a cloth mask is better than nothing, according to the Minnesota-based outlet Bring Me The News.