NPR
Coronavirus Live Updates

Trump Administration To Recommend People In Coronavirus Hotspots Wear Masks

826434559_452141754.jpg

A woman adjusts her mask in Los Angeles, where the mayor already urged residents to wear face coverings in public.
Robyn Beck, AFP via Getty Images

A woman adjusts her mask in Los Angeles, where the mayor already urged residents to wear face coverings in public.

The Trump administration is set to recommend that people who live in areas with high transmission of the coronavirus wear masks in public to avoid further spread of the virus, a White House official tells NPR's Tamara Keith.

Mayors in New York and Los Angeles have already urged people in their cities to use face coverings in public.

President Trump told reporters at a White House briefing on Thursday that he was waiting for guidance from public health experts on whether people should wear masks in public.

Dr. Deborah Birx, a member of the White House coronavirus task force, said she has been concerned that people would be less vigilant about staying six feet away from others and washing their hands if they are told to wear masks. "We don't want people to feel like, 'Oh I'm wearing a mask,'" and get a false sense of security, she said.

"This worries us and that's why the debate is continuing about the mask," she said. Any recommendation to wear a mask would be in addition to the existing guidelines, Birx said. Those guidelines to socially distance include avoiding gatherings and unnecessary travel and other outings.

Public health experts say face coverings could help prevent the spread of the virus, even if the benefit is minimal. President Trump in recent days had suggested wearing scarves, so masks can be reserved for hospital workers.

Support comes from

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

You won’t find a paywall here. Come as often as you like — we’re not counting. You’ve found a like-minded tribe that cherishes what a free press stands for. If you can spend another couple of minutes making a pledge of as little as $5, you’ll feel like a superhero defending democracy for less than the cost of a month of Netflix.