Vice President Mike Pence suggested on Sunday that the White House is looking to get workers in critical infrastructure back on the job. As part of this plan, he said people with coronavirus who are asymptomatic could wear a mask for a specific period of time to prevent the spread of their infection.
As reported by The Daily Beast, William Haseltine, president of the global health think tank ACCESS Health International, said that Pence’s idea is one that would likely exacerbate the spread of COVID-19.
“That is so bad,” Haseltine said of the vice president’s guidance. “If you want to really spread this infection like crazy, that’s what to do. It’s near insanity.”
Haseltine claimed that “no health expert” would have told Pence such an idea unless they were a Donald Trump sycophant.
“If you want to kill hundreds and thousands of Americans, he’s found a good way to do it.”
Even if the nationwide surgical mask shortage could be reversed to provide enough for all Americans exposed to COVID-19, The Daily Beast claimed that wearing a mask is not a “cure-all for contagiousness.”
Dr. Jeffrey Klausner, who previously worked for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), noted that infected individuals may still touch their face without thinking. He said that the best plan for dealing with infected individuals is to place them in quarantine and then test them afterward.
“That’s basic public health 101—that someone who has been exposed to a contagious disease be quarantined. That’s a much more scientifically rigorous approach.”
To justify Trump's desire to reopen the economy, Pence is portraying things as though the worst of the coronavirus crisis has already come and gone. That's just not the case. More Americans died yesterday from coronavirus than any day yet. pic.twitter.com/hPMKM80ZJk
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) March 24, 2020
Regardless, Pence doesn’t appear to be aligned with public health experts on their suggestions for tackling coronavirus. As reported by Business Insider, the vice president appeared on a Tuesday town hall interview with Fox News and said the White House’s coronavirus task force, which he was appointed to head, is not considering a nationwide lockdown.
Instead, Pence pointed to the “15 Days to Slow the Spread” initiative, which emphasizes the importance of avoiding nursing homes, hand washing, and limiting any social gatherings to less than 10 people. His comments echoed those from Trump, who, during the same town hall, emphasized the same precautions and revealed he would like to reopen the economy by Easter.
According to the president, social distancing would remain a critical practice to help keep businesses open while keeping the public safe from coronavirus.
Despite the Trump administration’s commitment to such safety measures, Klausner said testing people before they return to work would be the best — and most “scientifically sound” — path forward, should the economy reopen soon.
“My concern with the masking is just that it’s not an evidence-based, scientifically sound approach,” he remarked.