CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings

President Donald Trump announced new federal guidelines from the CDC today, recommending that Americans wear face coverings when in public.

The guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encourage people, especially in areas hit hard by the spread of the coronavirus, to use rudimentary coverings like T-shirts, bandannas and non-medical masks to cover their faces while outdoors.

President Trump and other administration officials stressed the recommendations did not amount to requirements and that a variety of homemade coverings were acceptable.

The CDC says surgical masks and N95 respirator marks should be left for those on the front lines of fighting the spread of the infection.

“I want to unpack the evolution of our guidance on masks because it has been confusing to the American people,” said Surgeon General Jerome Adams.

Adams, who had repeatedly and publicly advised against the need for face coverings, said Friday that although and he other public health experts initially believed wearing a mask would not have a substantial impact on curbing the spread, the latest evidence makes clear that people who don’t show any symptoms can nonetheless pass on the virus.

“We have told you that from the beginning that we are evolving our recommendations, and new recommendations will come as the evidence dictates,” Adams said.

The following was Released from the CDC on April 3, 2020:

CDC continues to study the spread and effects of the novel coronavirus across the United States.  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.

It is critical to emphasize that maintaining 6-feet social distancing remains important to slowing the spread of the virus.  CDC is additionally 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.

This recommendation complements and does not replace the President’s Coronavirus Guidelines for America, 30 Days to Slow the Spreadexternal icon, which remains the cornerstone of our national effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.  CDC will make additional recommendations as the evidence regarding appropriate public health measures continues to develop.