The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are expected to issue a new guidance to Americans advising them to wear masks in everyday life in an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus, a medical author claims.
Dr. Matt McCarthy, assistant professor of medicine at Weill Cornell and staff physician at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, wrote on Twitter that the new guidance was expected to be released within the next 10 days and will go further than the current recommendation that only people who are at greater risk wear masks.
According to McCarthy, author of Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic, the U.S. population will be advised to wear face masks as part of their everyday lives. This differs from the current recommendation that masks are best reserved for those in high-risk groups.
???? Get ready – new CDC mask wearing guidance (requirement?) will be coming in 10 days. Talk about likely awkward about face change from past “don’t wear mask” mantra. America might potentially become a mask wearing society like Asian soon. #COVID19 https://t.co/zvm0s6Tcc3
— Eric Feigl-Ding (@DrEricDing) March 28, 2020
McCarthy’s tweet came after the White House signaled that a new guidance would be issued shortly, allowing Americans to return to work quicker.
“The CDC tomorrow is going to issue new guidance which will make it possible for people who have exposed to the coronavirus to return to work more quickly by wearing a mask for a certain period of time,” PBS News reporter Yamiche Alcindor tweeted this week.
As The Washington Post reported, medical associations and unions have pushed back against a guidance from the CDC issued last week regarding conserving and reusing masks. The CDC had loosened its minimum requirements for how personal protective equipment should be used in the face of shortages, suggesting that some items could only be used for more risky procedures or for longer periods of time.
“As a last resort, the CDC suggested, bandannas could be used in place of masks,” the report noted.
This drew pushback from groups who called the suggestion dangerous, with others criticizing the federal government for its failure to properly prepare for the outbreak.
The CDC has not yet given an indication that it will issue a new guidance, but the report from McCarthy was also met with some criticism from those who believe that the federal agency is trying to coordinate with Donald Trump in his suggestion to have the nation reopened by Easter.
If this is true it will not be motivated by health concerns or scientific fact or protecting the public. The mask is a Trump smokescreen to push his agenda to "open" the country.
— Andy Kopsa (@andykopsa) March 28, 2020
But many experts have called on the United States to issue stronger guidance to residents to wear masks. In a rare interview with Science, George Gao, director-general of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said that everyone should be wearing masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
“The big mistake in the U.S. and Europe, in my opinion, is that people aren’t wearing masks,” Gao said. “This virus is transmitted by droplets and close contact. Droplets play a very important role—you’ve got to wear a mask, because when you speak, there are always droplets coming out of your mouth. Many people have asymptomatic or presymptomatic infections. If they are wearing face masks, it can prevent droplets that carry the virus from escaping and infecting others.”