Scott Gottlieb, the Trump administration's former FDA commissioner, told CBS' "Face the Nation" on Sunday that he thinks local governments will need to mandate face masks for the general public as infections surge in a number of states, arguing that they're "losing precious time."

Why it matters: With significant community spread in states like Florida, Texas and Arizona, some sort of mitigation is necessary in order to stop the outbreaks from tipping into "exponential growth" in the next week, Gottlieb said. And unlike in March and April, states are no longer going to be willing to shut down parts of the economy.

  • California, one of the states that has seen a spike in infections, issued a statewide order requiring people to wear face coverings in public last week.

Between the lines: Facial coverings have become part of a political and cultural debate, with few people seen donning masks at the Trump rally in Tulsa on Saturday night. Gottlieb dismissed the idea that masks should be a partisan issue, calling it a "collective action we can all take to help protect our fellow citizens."

  • "It's something that we can do, collectively, to try to reduce the spread. It's really all we have, and it's not a very robust tool at that. But it's a tool that we have and it's a tool that's been demonstrated to have an impact if everyone does it, or most people do it," Gottlieb said.

Flashback: Opponents of masks have pointed to public health guidance at the very start of the pandemic that did not advise individuals to wear facial coverings, leading conflicting messages.

  • Anthony Fauci has explained this by noting that health officials were concerned about potential mask shortages, and Gottlieb added that health officials were worried that "by telling people they could wear a mask, you're telling them they could go out."
  • "I think that could have been messaged appropriately ... We should have been recommending masks from the outset," he noted.

Go deeper

Jul 1, 2020 - Health

Trump says he still thinks coronavirus will "just disappear" at some point

President Trump told Fox Business in an interview Wednesday that he still believes the coronavirus will "at some point just sort of disappear," as he first claimed in February before the pandemic was declared.

Why it matters: The coronavirus outbreak in the U.S., which has already seen more than 2.6 million Americans test positive, is continuing to accelerate across the Sun Belt and has shown no signs of slowing down. Anthony Fauci testified Tuesday that he would "not be surprised" if the U.S. begins reporting as many as 100,000 new coronavirus cases per day.

Top business leaders urge White House to develop mandatory mask guidelines

A man walks past a Ramen restaurant in Los Angeles, California on July 1. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

The heads of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Business Roundtable, National Retail Federation and other top business organizations wrote an open letter on Thursday urging the White House coronavirus task force to work with governors to make face coverings mandatory in all public spaces.

Driving the news: An analysis led by Goldman Sachs' chief economist found that a national mandate requiring face coverings would "could potentially substitute for lockdowns that would otherwise subtract nearly 5% from GDP," the Washington Post reports.

6 mins ago - Podcasts

Lots of jobs, lots of questions

America added 4.8 million jobs in June, easily exceeding economist expectations, while the unemployment rate fell from 13.3% to 11.1%. But the jobs picture remains very murky, particularly as some states pause or roll back economy reopenings.

Axios Re:Cap digs into the jobs picture right now and where it's headed, with The Washington Post's Catherine Rampell.