As the U.S. death toll climbs past 6,000, the White House is reportedly formalizing guidance to ask many Americans to wear cloth or homemade masks while outdoors.
The possible new recommendation based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would be “narrowly targeted to areas with high community transmission,” according to a White House official who spoke to The Washington Post.
Internal memos obtained by the Post appear to suggest the move is meant to target infected people who don’t show symptoms but are spreading the virus unknowingly. Health officials believe fabric covering the nose and mouth could keep them from transmitting the virus to other people.
Photos: America at Standstill
“In light of these new data, along with evidence of widespread transmission in communities across the country, CDC recommends the community use of cloth masks as an additional public health measure people can take to prevent the spread of virus to those around them,” according to the guidance under review.
“We are not going to be wearing masks forever, but it could be for a short period of time after we get back into gear,” Trump said. “I could see something like that happening for a period of time.”
The mayors of Los Angeles and New York City have asked their residents to use cloth or handmade masks when going outside.
“When you put on that face covering, you’re protecting everyone else,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Thursday. “A lot of people out there, right this minute, don’t even know they have it.”
However, there are concerns that masks could give people a false sense of security and take needed protections away from health care workers.
The World Health Organization does not recommend the general public use masks, though it said this week that it is constantly reevaluating these guidelines. Still, the organization has warned of a “chronic” global shortage of protective gear.
The U.S. has more cases of the coronavirus than any other country at more than 245,000, according to Johns Hopkins University. Roughly 90% of Americans are under either a city or state mandated stay-at-home order.
Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, on Thursday questioned why every state hasn’t enacted a stay-at-home order.
“You know, the tension between federally mandated versus states’ rights to do what they want is something I don’t want to get into,” he told CNN. “But if you look at what’s going on in this country, I just don’t understand why we’re not doing that.”