CDC: It's time for "universal face mask use"
The CDC is urging “universal face mask use” for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began, citing recent case spikes as the U.S. has entered a phase of “high-level transmission” before winter officially begins.
Why it matters: Daily COVID-related deaths across the U.S. hit a new record on Wednesday. Face coverings have been shown to increase protection of the wearer and those around them, despite some Americans' reluctance to use them.
The big picture: "With colder weather, more time spent indoors, the ongoing U.S. holiday season, and silent spread of disease" the country now requires requires a multi-pronged approach to reduce the risk of transmission. Universal mask use outside people's homes — whether indoors or in close proximity to others outdoors — is one crucial strategy, according to the CDC.
- 50% of new infections are transmitted by asymptomatic people, which means face masks are essential to avoid contact.
- Other strategies for prevention include social distancing, postponing travel and safeguarding at-risk groups.
- The CDC has also advocated for creating community-level plans to distribute face masks to populations with barriers to access.
What they’re saying: “Consistent and correct use of face masks is a public health strategy critical to reducing respiratory transmission of SARS-CoV-2,” the CDC said in its Friday statement.
Context: Wearing face masks has been a contentious issue in the U.S., with states divided on mask mandates.
- President Trump and some Republicans in his circle have not always followed CDC guidance to wear masks.
What to watch: President-elect Joe Biden told CNN on Thursday he plans to ask the American public to wear face masks for his first 100 days in office.