New Yorker wearing a homemade face covering. Photo: Selcuk Acar/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The White House announced that the CDC is recommending Americans wear cloth masks or face coverings in public to help stop the spread of the coronavirus, President Trump said at a press briefing on Friday — emphasizing the guidance is "voluntary."

Why it matters: The use of face coverings could stop people who have the virus, whether they have symptoms or not, from spreading it further when they go out in public.

  • As researchers learn more about the virus, it's becoming apparent that asymptomatic carriers are likely contributing to its spread.
  • The guidance is a significant change in messaging from the Trump administration, which initially advised against healthy people using masks.

What they're saying: "The CDC is recommending that Americans wear a basic cloth or a fabric mask that can be purchased online or made at home," Trump said on Friday.

  • "I'm choosing not to do it, but some people want to do it and that's okay ... it's only a recommendation, it's voluntary."
  • Trump said the White House is not advising that Americans use surgical grade or medical grade masks, since "medical protective gear must be preserved for the front line workers."
  • The recommendation does not replace CDC guidance on social distancing, Trump said.

This story is breaking news. Please check for updates.

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