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CDC weighing option of recommending face masks to the general public

Global organizations are sending mixed messages about the utility of nonmedical face coverings during the pandemic

Published: March 31, 2020 8:00am

Updated: March 31, 2020 8:53am

The debate surrounding masks during the pandemic rages on, as more and more states issue stay-at-home orders. 

The Washington Post reported Monday that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was considering issuing an official guidance to encourage people to cover their faces – though not with surgical masks, of which the nation's hospitals seem to be in short supply. 

CDC guidelines state that healthy people don't need to wear masks. A symptomatic or asymptomatic individual will lessen their rate of transmission of coronavirus by wearing a mask because the disease is transmitted through fluid droplets that primarily spread when a person coughs or sneezes. 

One concern is that if everyone starts donning facial coverings, society's commitment to social distancing will decrease. However, guidance surrounding masks has been varied. In Hong Kong, citizens were told to wear surgical masks on public transportation. The World Health Organization maintains that for healthy people, masks are unneeded. 

Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration published a pandemic response paper for the American Enterprise Institute this week, primarily detailing a gradual economic recovery plan for the country, but also recommending that everyone, symptomatic or otherwise, should wear non-medical masks while in public for a while. 

At Monday's White House briefing, President Trump said wearing fabric masks is something he and his team "could" discuss.

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