Apr 3, 2020 - Politics & Policy

White House recommends Americans wear masks in public

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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Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

Infectious disease experts doubt that the coronavirus will slow its spread during the summer, National Institutes of Health director Francis Collins wrote in a Tuesday blog post.

By the numbers: More than 105,000 Americans have died of the coronavirus and over 1.8 million people have tested positive, per data from Johns Hopkins. More than 458,000 Americans have recovered and over 17.3 million tests have been conducted.

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Why it matters: Our experience battling this new virus has taught us a lot about what does and doesn’t work. We’ll have to apply those lessons rigorously, and keep adapting, if we have any hope of containing the virus and limiting the number of deaths from here on out.

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  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 8 p.m. ET: 1,831,435 — Total deaths: 106,180 — Total recoveries: 463,868 — Total tested: 17,757,838Map.
  3. 2020: N.C. governor says GOP should plan for a "scaled-down convention."
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  5. Business: More than 1 in 6 black workers lost jobs between February and April.
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