By Miriam Raftery
April 4, 2020 (Washington D.C.) -- On Friday, the White House Coronavirus Task Force and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced new guidance around the wearing of face coverings, such as cloth masks, in community settings.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar issued the following statement:
“This national voluntary effort is a new chance for every American to make a real difference in slowing the spread of the coronavirus. Evidence of pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic transmission of the coronavirus, as well as evidence of widespread transmission across the country, has led CDC to make a new recommendation: On top of existing social distancing recommendations, all Americans should wear a face covering, such as a cloth mask, when leaving their home to go to necessary places like the grocery store. President Trump has relied on the advice of America’s best scientists throughout this crisis, and that science-based approach drove our new guidance around face coverings. While we don’t have evidence that a cloth mask protects you from acquiring the virus, the science suggests it will help prevent you from spreading it to others—a key way to protect the most vulnerable, slow the spread, and save lives.
“Americans have repeatedly stepped up to make contributions to our war on the coronavirus in exceptional ways. Face coverings are a new, voluntary opportunity for a unified national effort: I’m wearing one to protect you, and you’re wearing one to protect me. Taking this step will protect our loved ones, our communities, and our country from the invisible enemy we’re fighting together.”
San Diego County officials have also urged, though not required, individuals to wear facial coverings such as cloth masks or bandanas when leaving home. Residents are asked NOT to buy N-95 masks or surgical masks, which need to be reserved for medical providers to protect those in close contact with COVID-19 patients.
A new county health rule does require employees in essential businesses to wear masks when in contact with the public, such as at grocery stores and pharmacies, while also maintaining social distancing.