The government of President Donald Trump on Thursday formalized new guidelines to recommend that Americans cover their faces in an attempt to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
The recommendations, which are being given the last details, would apply to those who live in areas that have been plagued by a community transmission of the virus that causes the COVID-19 disease.
A person familiar with the White House coronavirus task force talks said authorities would suggest using non-medical face masks, T-shirts, or bandanas to cover your nose and mouth when you leave home, such as when you go to the supermarket or the pharmacy. Medical grade face masks, especially those that are in short supply, would be reserved for those who directly care for the sick.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity in order to testify about the proposed guidelines before publication.
Trump, who was re-examined to see if he has the coronavirus using a new rapid test, said he would support such a recommendation.
“If people want to use them, they can do it,” he said.
A few days ago, the president had said that it was not “a bad idea, at least for some time.”
Trump’s test came back negative in 15 minutes, the White House noted, noting that the president is “healthy and symptom-free.”
Vice President Mike Pence also announced Thursday that the presidential residence was considering giving direct payments to hospitals to cover the costs of treating COVID-19 in Americans without health insurance.
The emerging guidelines around facemasks appeared to be more limited than those included in a draft by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which suggests that the recommendation be applicable to almost all Americans across the country, according to a federal official who has seen the draft but is not authorized to speak about it.
Authorities are expected to limit their geographic reach to only regions where the virus is spreading rapidly, the official added. The official announcement is scheduled for Friday.
According to the above guidelines, only patients or those at high risk of complications from respiratory disease should wear face masks. The new proposal was fueled by research that showed that some apparently healthy people are spreading infections.
The talks about the masks came as the White House mobilized aggressively to defend its management of the coronavirus pandemic, especially its efforts to accelerate the distribution of respirators and protective equipment needed by medical professionals.