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In early March, Dr. Anthony Fauci, a leading voice on the White House Coronavirus Task Force, told “60 Minutes” face masks were not necessary for the general population amid the novel coronavirus outbreak, noting that while masks might make people “feel a little bit better,” they don’t provide the protection folks believe they do and might create “unintended consequences.”
Since the interview, Dr. Fauci has changed his tune on mask directives, encouraging folks to wear them when they cannot social distance. And by early April, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued guidance recommending face coverings.
“When it comes to preventing coronavirus, public health officials have been clear: Healthy people do not need to wear a face mask to protect themselves from COVID-19,” CBS News reported March 8, concerning the Fauci interview.
“There’s no reason to be walking around with a mask,” the infectious disease expert told “60 Minutes.”
“While masks may block some droplets, Fauci said, they do not provide the level of protection people think they do,” CBS News reported at the time. “Wearing a mask may also have unintended consequences: People who wear masks tend to touch their face more often to adjust them, which can spread germs from their hands.”
“Right now, in the United States, people should not be walking around with masks,” Fauci asserted.
“You’re sure of it because people are listening really not closely to this right now,” the host pressed. There’s no reason to be walking around with a mask when you’re in the middle of an outbreak,” Fauci doubled-down. “Wearing a mask might make people feel a little bit better and it might even block a droplet, but it’s not providing the perfect protection that people think that it is. And often, there are unintended consequences; people keep fiddling with the mask and they keep touching their face.
“When you think mask, you should think of health care providers needing them and people who are ill,” added the medical expert.
Fauci also warned that healthy folks buying up masks would create a shortage. “It could lead to a shortage of masks for the people who really need it,” he said
By April 3, the CDC issued guidance advising cloth face mask coverings for the general population.
“CDC continues to study the spread and effects of the novel coronavirus across the United States,” the guidance said. “We now know from recent studies that a 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.”
“In light of this new evidence, CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission,” the CDC added.
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