CDC recommends wearing face masks in public

Grace Goverman, Managing Editor

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended on Friday, April 3 that all Americans wear non-medical grade face coverings while in public. The turnabout comes after weeks of urging the public to not wear masks, conflicting recommendations and intense internal debate. President Donald Trump said that wearing masks is voluntary and that he will not be doing so.

The CDC emphasized that wearing a mask does not guarantee complete protection. Dr. Deborah Birx, a member of the White House’s COVID-19 task force, stated, “You may be protecting others. But don’t get a false sense of security that that mask is protecting you exclusively from getting infected, because there are other ways that you can get infected [from] asymptomatic and mild cases that are out there.” 

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and fellow task force member, added, “Given the fact that we know that asymptomatic people are clearly transmitting infection, it just makes common sense that it’s not a bad idea [to wear a mask.]” 

Officials were wary to make a blanket recommendation to the American people to wear masks out of fear that further panic buying of medical masks would worsen the shortage for medical professionals. As a result, the CDC is asking the public to wear homemade fabric masks. 

While there is currently no recommended crafting pattern for a face mask, countless are available on the internet, such as the ones provided here.

There is currently no scientific consensus on the effectiveness of using cloth to prevent transmission of respiratory diseases, but according to an update from authors of a 2015 study on the effectiveness of cloth masks for medical professionals, “the physical barrier provided by a cloth mask may afford some protection, but likely much less than a surgical mask or a respirator.” The study was focused towards medical professionals, who require much greater protection than the public due to their high levels of exposure to the virus.

This is an ongoing story. Check back for more information as the situation changes.