President Donald Trump said that the Centers for Disease Control is now recommending that Americans wear non-medical basic cloth or fabric masks in public to protect against the spread of the coronavirus.
Trump said at his Friday briefing that he was “choosing not to” wear one, but that others may want to. He also emphasized multiple times that the guidelines are voluntary. The masks should not be medical or surgical grade, as those are badly needed by hospitals to treat coronavirus patients, he said.
Certain cities, like Los Angeles and New York, have recommended that residents wear masks. Members of the White House coronavirus tasks force, including Dr. Deborah Birx and Dr. Anthony Fauci, had expressed concern that issuing such an order could give a false sense of security and should not be in lieu of social distancing guidelines.
Trump also said that he is prohibiting the export of “scare medical supplies,” including respirators and surgical masks. He said that he is invoking the Defense Production Act to do so. That decision has created concerns among Canadian officials, who are facing their own issues with potential shortages of medical gear. Trump had lashed out at 3M on Thursday, writing, “We hit 3M hard today after seeing what they were doing with their Masks. “P Act” all the way. Big surprise to many in government as to what they were doing – will have a big price to pay!”
Trump also announced that hospitals treating coronavirus patients who are uninsured will be reimbursed by the government.
The president urged Americans to “stay at home,” but, as he has throughout the crisis, emphasized its temporary nature. “This will end…It’s not going to be too long.”
Asked why he didn’t want to wear the mask, Trump said that “somehow sitting behind the Resolute Desk with a face mask — I don’t know. I don’t see it for myself. This will pass and hopefully it will pass quickly.”
The recommendation is a reversal of CDC guidelines that previously recommended against wearing the mask unless caring for someone who has the virus. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said that the change was made in light of information that the virus can be spread even those who are not exhibiting symptoms.