This report has been updated since it was originally posted.
WASHINGTON DC – The Centers For Disease Control, based on new evidence, is recommending Americans wear cloth face coverings in public settings here other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.
With world-wide COVID-19 cases at more than 1 million and cases in the United States at more than 250,000, the CDC said more than just social distancing is needed.
“Significant portion of individuals with coronavirus lack symptoms (“asymptomatic”) and that even those who eventually develop symptoms (“pre-symptomatic”) can transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms. This means that the virus can spread between people interacting in close proximity—for example, speaking, coughing, or sneezing—even if those people are not exhibiting symptoms,” said the CDC, on recommending the cloth facemasks.
U.S. President Donald J. Trump announced the new guidance Friday but immediately said he himself would not choose to do it.
The CDC is “advising the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others. Cloth face coverings fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost can be used as an additional, voluntary public health measure.”
The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators. Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance.