Jul 14, 2020 - Health

CDC director: U.S. could get coronavirus "under control" in 4–8 weeks if all wear masks

screenshot of CDC director Robert Redfield

If everyone in the U.S. wore a mask, the coronavirus pandemic could be "under control" within four to eight weeks, Centers for the Disease Control and Prevention director Robert Redfield said in a discussion led by medical journal JAMA on Tuesday.

The big picture: JAMA published an editorial on Tuesday co-authored by Redfield that points to research papers showing that the positivity rate of confirmed cases can decrease in populations with masking. "The time is now. We really need to embrace masking," he said.

What he's saying: "If we could get everybody to wear a mask right now, I think in four, six, eight weeks we could bring this epidemic under control."

  • "I am heartened to see more and more people now. I'm glad to see the president wear a mask this weekend — the vice president. Clearly in their situation, you can easily justify they don't need to because of all the testing around them and they know they're not infected. But we need them to set the example."

By the numbers: The CDC published two reports on Tuesday that studied how wearing face coverings can reduce COVID-19 spread for businesses and how mask usage was easily adopted among some racial and ethnic groups from April to May.

  • The incidence of cloth face coverings was higher in all sociodemographic groups in the U.S., among Black Americans, Hispanics, people 39 years and older, as well as those living in the Northeast.
  • Another case study shows 139 clients were exposed to two symptomatic hair stylists with confirmed COVID-19. Both the stylists and customers wore face masks and no symptomatic secondary cases were reported.

Go deeper: CDC expands list of who's most at risk for the coronavirus

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