The White House is expected to announce a new recommendation that all Americans wear cloth masks to help prevent the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus, Stat News reported on Thursday.
The recommendation is not yet final and subject to change, however it is based on updated guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding the coronavirus. While masks are not considered effective at preventing one from contracting the coronavirus, wearing one may prevent asymptomatic patients from unwittingly spreading the illness.
The White House will recommend that Americans use homemade cloth masks, reserving higher-grade N95 masks for medical professionals in continuous contact with coronavirus patients. The U.S. is facing a strain on its supply of medical gear, including masks.
“The idea of getting a much more broad, community-wide use of masks outside of the health care setting is under very active discussion at the [White House coronavirus] task force. The CDC group is looking at that very carefully,” Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN on Tuesday. “The thing that has inhibited that a bit is to make sure that we don’t take away the supply of masks from the health care workers who need them.”
Several countries including South Korea, Japan, and Israel, have recommended that residents wear masks to prevent coronavirus spread.
The U.S. currently reports over 236,000 coronavirus cases with 5,607 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus tracker.