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Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN Tuesday that the White House coronavirus task force will hold an "active discussion" about broadening the use of medical masks to protect against coronavirus.

Why it matters: Such a guidance shift would be a huge change in messaging from the Trump administration, which initially advised against healthy people using masks.

  • Currently, only sick people and health care workers are advised to wear masks due to shortages of personal protective equipment.
  • Fauci also said that part of the administration's hesitation regarding broadening the guidance was ensuring that enough of a supply remains for at-risk populations, like health care workers.

What he's saying:

"When we get in a situation where we have enough masks, I believe there will be some very serious consideration about more broadening this recommendation of using masks. We're not there yet, but I think we're close to coming to some determination. Because if, in fact, a person who may or may not be infected wants to prevent infecting someone else, one of the best ways to do that is with a mask, so perhaps that's the way to go. And again, I say, Jim, that's under very active consideration. We'll be discussing it today, this afternoon, at the task force meeting."

The big picture: Scientists and researchers have suggested that the administration could post guidelines about creating do-it-yourself masks — such as a bandana or cloth over one's face — for asymptomatic people.

  • A report from the Washington Post out Tuesday cited internal CDC talks on possibly recommending the public use DIY cloth masks as protective gear.
  • Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb told CBS' "Face the Nation" on Sunday that "we should be putting out guidelines from the CDC on how you can develop a mask on your own.”

Go deeper: Fauci says 100,000 to 200,000 Americans could die from coronavirus

Go deeper

Taiwan leader confirms U.S. troops on island training forces

Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen in Taipei earlier this month. Photo: I-Hwa Cheng/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen told CNN Thursday that a small number of American troops are on the island for training purposes and she has "faith" the U.S. would defend the democracy against a Chinese military attack.

Why it matters: This is the first time a Taiwanese leader has publicly acknowledged the presence of U.S. troops on the self-governing island since the last U.S. garrison left in 1979, when Washington switched formal diplomatic recognition to Beijing.

Updated 4 hours ago - Health

NYC firefighters union urges members to defy mayor's vaccine mandate

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. Photo: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

The president of New York City's firefighters union told reporters Wednesday that he's advised unvaccinated members to ignore Mayor Bill de Blasio's COVID-19 vaccine mandate for city workers, per Reuters.

Why it matters: Under de Blasio's order that's due to take effect Friday, unvaccinated city employees would be placed on unpaid leave. But Uniformed Firefighters Association head Andrew Ansbro said he told members that "if they choose to remain unvaccinated, they must still report for duty," according to Reuters.

5 hours ago - Health

Study: Common antidepressant guards against COVID hospitalization

A COVID-19 intensive Care Unit in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil on May 27, 2021. Photo: Fabio Teixeira/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The readily available antidepressant fluvoxamine significantly reduced COVID-related hospitalizations, according to a large study published Wednesday.

Why it matters: The clinical trial suggests that a cheap, readily available drug could dramatically reduce serious illness and death when prescribed early.