President Trump said Friday the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now recommends that people wear cloth or fabric face coverings, which can be made at home when entering public spaces such as grocery stores and public transit stations. It is mainly to prevent those people who have the virus — and might not know it — from spreading the infection to others.
The CDC continues to study the spread and effects of the novel coronavirus across the United States. Recent studies have shown that a significant portion of individuals with coronavirus lack symptoms (“asymptomatic”) and that even those who eventually develop symptoms (“pre-symptomatic”) can transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms. This means that the virus can spread between people interacting in close proximity—for example, speaking, coughing, or sneezing—even if those people are not exhibiting symptoms. In light of this new evidence, CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.
It is critical to emphasize that maintaining 6-feet social distancing remains essential to slow the spread of the virus. The CDC is advising the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others. Cloth face coverings fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost can be used as an additional, voluntary public health measure.
The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators. Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance.
This recommendation complements and does not replace the President’s Coronavirus Guidelines for America, 30 Days to Slow the Spreadexternal icon, which remains the cornerstone of our national effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus. CDC will make additional recommendations as evidence regarding appropriate public health measures continues to develop.