people wearing medical masks (Angelina Bambina/

CDC recommends cloth face coverings to slow virus spread

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued recommendations on facial coverings, mirroring growing consensus among experts that even a nonmedical cloth covering—such as a clean bandana—could be helpful, mainly by lowering the transmission of the virus by people with it. Previously, the White House coronavirus task force, CDC and other federal authorities shied away from officially recommending wearing masks or other facial coverings for people not engaged in medical care or other frontline COVID-19 response.

CDC guidelines on COVID-19 already warned of the contagion danger: “The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person,” the guidelines state. “Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) … through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks.”

The reluctance of U.S. health authorities, until recently, to recommend face coverings for people who are not sick centered on the idea that the practice had not proven effective. Many also expressed fear that any call for facial coverings for all might lead to a run on already scarce medical masks and distract from by far the most powerful means of stopping COVID-19’s spread: social distancing.

Meanwhile, bottom line: Wash your hands. Don’t touch your face. Stay in as much as possible. And, as Dr. Anthony Fauci says,  “When you are out, and you can’t maintain that six-foot distance, wear some sort of facial covering."

Reader comments

Wed, Apr 8, 2020 MikeM

As soon as China announced asymptomatic people can spread the disease, wearing a mask should have become mandatory and taking people's temperatures should be discontinued. It provides a completely false sense of security so it is WORSE than a waste of time.

Tue, Apr 7, 2020

The problem now is too much of the virus is spread around everywhere. Shopping malls and schools and everything else weren't closed. Especially in New Orleans and Texas. Now it will kill a lot more people.

Tue, Apr 7, 2020 Jim

Obviously it helps. If you sneeze or cough a lot of the droplets you push out would get trapped in the cloth. Some don't. But if the government had said to do this a month ago, people would have bought every mask and there would be even worse shortage now.

Mon, Apr 6, 2020 Joe V.

Very interesting. I would say it is about time. Might have been a good idea a month ago.

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2020 Digital Almanac

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