The Centers for Disease Control is now recommending that everyone in the U.S. wear cloth masks when leaving their homes to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, President Donald Trump announced last week.
“Its voluntary,” Trump said during the White House’s daily press briefing on the nation’s response to the coronavirus on Friday. “They suggest it for a period of time. I don’t think I’m going to do it.”
Trump said the recommendation is for basic cloth or fabric masks, not for medical or surgical grade masks, which are needed for front-line health care workers.
Wearing a cloth mask doesn’t replace CDC guidelines on social distancing of staying at least six feet away from other people, the president noted.
The new recommendations come because of new evidence that shows that the virus is highly contagious even among individuals who aren’t showing symptoms, which include a fever, coughing, trouble breathing, loss of taste and smell.
Vice President Mike Pence says there’s evidence that the CDC’s guidelines are having a positive impact on slowing the spread of the disease in some parts of the country.
“Every American has a role to play,” Pence said. “We encourage you to keep on keeping on. We will get through this.”
According to the CDC, there were 239,279 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. as of Friday, and 5,443 deaths.
Dr. Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus response coordinator, says in just week three of the guidelines being implemented, California and Washington are showing progress.
“We do see that their curve is different” from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, she said, which are among the epicenters of COVID-19 in the U.S.