CDC now recommends wearing non-medical face coverings to help slow coronavirus spread

President Donald Trump has detailed a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendation that Americans wear face coverings in an effort to slow the spread of the new coronavirus.Federal health officials are suggesting that non-medical masks and face coverings be used to cover the nose and mouth when outside the home — for instance, at the grocery store or pharmacy — when social distancing is difficult to maintain.“The CDC is not recommending the use of medical grade or surgical grade masks,” President Donald Trump said Friday at a coronavirus task force meeting, noting the country wants those medical and surgical grade masks to be used for health care workers.Trump said the voluntary measure could use basic cloth or fabric, which could be made at home and washed and reused.The president stressed that the recommendation is optional and is conceding he will not be adhering to it.In response to recent studies, the CDC on Wednesday also changed how it was defining the risk of infection for Americans. It essentially says anyone may be a considered a carrier, whether they have symptoms or not.The virus spreads mostly through droplets from coughs or sneezes, though experts stress that the germ is still not fully understood. U.S. officials have been telling people to stay at home as much as possible, and keep at least 6 feet (2 meters) away from others when they do go out. Other advice includes frequent hand washing and not touching your face.But until now federal officials have stopped short of telling people to cover their faces out in public.Dr. Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus response coordinator, said Thursday that officials don’t want people to get a false sense of security with a mask because of asymptomatic carriers and the problem of touching your face in connection with wearing a mask.CDC director Robert Redfield said Friday social distancing is a powerful tool. He said that’s the first and foremost approach because the virus can’t spread from one to another six feet away.He said they’re constantly looking at new data and added that a face interrupter can help.Scientists can’t rule out that infected people sometimes exhale COVID-19 virus particles, rather than just when coughing or sneezing, but there isn’t enough evidence to show if that can cause infection, according to a committee convened by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine to advise the White House.Video: Woman sews hundreds of face masks for nursesThe question has to do with whether the new coronavirus spreads mostly by droplets that don’t linger for long in the air, or also by tinier “aerosolized” particles. Certain medical procedures, such as inserting breathing tubes, can create those tiny particles, which is why health care workers wear close-fitting N95 masks during such care.The committee cited one study that detected airborne viral RNA in and just outside some hospital isolation rooms, but noted that it was unclear if that could infect someone.U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams had repeatedly admonished Americans not to wear face masks, saying they don’t prevent the people who wear them from catching the virus. He and other officials have stressed that surgical face masks and other protective medical equipment have been in short supply and must be prioritized for people such as health-care workers.Adams explained Friday how the issue has evolved.He said we know now from recent research that the virus can spread from people in close proximity, such as by coughing, sneezing or speaking, even if those people were not exhibiting symptoms.The surgeon general also said that using the face coverings could help others. He said that people should wash their hands before putting them on, though.

President Donald Trump has detailed a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendation that Americans wear face coverings in an effort to slow the spread of the new coronavirus.

Federal health officials are suggesting that non-medical masks and face coverings be used to cover the nose and mouth when outside the home — for instance, at the grocery store or pharmacy — when social distancing is difficult to maintain.

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“The CDC is not recommending the use of medical grade or surgical grade masks,” President Donald Trump said Friday at a coronavirus task force meeting, noting the country wants those medical and surgical grade masks to be used for health care workers.

Trump said the voluntary measure could use basic cloth or fabric, which could be made at home and washed and reused.

The president stressed that the recommendation is optional and is conceding he will not be adhering to it.

In response to recent studies, the CDC on Wednesday also changed how it was defining the risk of infection for Americans. It essentially says anyone may be a considered a carrier, whether they have symptoms or not.

The virus spreads mostly through droplets from coughs or sneezes, though experts stress that the germ is still not fully understood.

U.S. officials have been telling people to stay at home as much as possible, and keep at least 6 feet (2 meters) away from others when they do go out. Other advice includes frequent hand washing and not touching your face.

But until now federal officials have stopped short of telling people to cover their faces out in public.

Dr. Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus response coordinator, said Thursday that officials don’t want people to get a false sense of security with a mask because of asymptomatic carriers and the problem of touching your face in connection with wearing a mask.

CDC director Robert Redfield said Friday social distancing is a powerful tool. He said that’s the first and foremost approach because the virus can’t spread from one to another six feet away.

He said they’re constantly looking at new data and added that a face interrupter can help.

Scientists can’t rule out that infected people sometimes exhale COVID-19 virus particles, rather than just when coughing or sneezing, but there isn’t enough evidence to show if that can cause infection, according to a committee convened by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine to advise the White House.

Video: Woman sews hundreds of face masks for nurses

The question has to do with whether the new coronavirus spreads mostly by droplets that don’t linger for long in the air, or also by tinier “aerosolized” particles. Certain medical procedures, such as inserting breathing tubes, can create those tiny particles, which is why health care workers wear close-fitting N95 masks during such care.

The committee cited one study that detected airborne viral RNA in and just outside some hospital isolation rooms, but noted that it was unclear if that could infect someone.

U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams had repeatedly admonished Americans not to wear face masks, saying they don’t prevent the people who wear them from catching the virus. He and other officials have stressed that surgical face masks and other protective medical equipment have been in short supply and must be prioritized for people such as health-care workers.

Adams explained Friday how the issue has evolved.

He said we know now from recent research that the virus can spread from people in close proximity, such as by coughing, sneezing or speaking, even if those people were not exhibiting symptoms.

The surgeon general also said that using the face coverings could help others. He said that people should wash their hands before putting them on, though.