CDC To Recommend All Americans Wear Protective Masks In Everyday Life

I’m really angry about this:

CDC To Recommend All Americans Wear Protective Masks In Everyday Life: Report

On Saturday, Weill Cornell’s Dr. Matt McCarthy reported that the Centers for Disease Control will revise their recommendations on protective masks.

In the next ten days, the CDC guidelines will reportedly change to advising Americans to wear masks “in everyday life.” This contrasts with the current guidelines, which only recommend masks for high-risk groups like health care workers.

The country is currently suffering from a shortage of masks and other personal protective equipment as health care workers struggle to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus. Many have been forced to reuse spent masks, or fashion their own out of materials lying around. The revised guidelines would threaten to worsen the mask shortage unless increased production begins right away.

NEW: CDC guidance on masks expected to change in next 10 days. Americans will be advised to wear masks in everyday life. Current recommendation is for high-risk groups only.
— Matt McCarthy (@DrMattMcCarthy) March 28, 2020

I’m angry because:

  • I don’t know if it’s true and I can’t trust what the CDC and the White House say about this anymore.
  • The Surgeon General already told us that masks are ineffective. Now they are effective? Which is the lie? (He also said that healthcare workers needed the dwindling supply, which is a contradiction. If they are ineffective why should anyone wear them?)
  • Why 10 days? Wouldn’t now be more effective? Last week? Two months ago!?
  • There aren’t enough masks to go around. How do you recommend the impossible?

Since people are shedding virus long before they know they are infected, the recommendation for everyone to wear a mask made sense months ago.

10 thoughts on “CDC To Recommend All Americans Wear Protective Masks In Everyday Life

  1. mboydp

    This is aggravating! A Chinese billionaire (Ma) was going to send us all sorts of gear a couple weeks ago, but Trump said “NO”! They had to be made by US companies like GM, which isn’t set up at all, either mechanically or parts-wise to make such things (e.g. ventilators). He’s a self-serving lunatic!


  2. forumholitorium

    What a sad day indeed to no longer be able to trust the CDC, one of the two places in the world that officially still have smallpox lying around.

    This is what the European Centre for Disease Control’s Q & A says about face masks:

    3. Are face masks effective in protecting against COVID-19?

    If you are infected, the use of surgical face masks may reduce the risk of you infecting other people, but there is no evidence that face masks will effectively prevent you from being infected with the virus. In fact, it is possible that the use of face masks may even increase the risk of infection due to a false sense of security and increased contact between hands, mouth and eyes.


    1. Bix Post author

      I saw that on WHO’s sight too.

      I disagree with it. The mask can prevent you from becoming infected when it is being worn by people who might not know they are infected but are shedding.

      Wearing a mask, particularly a lightweight surgical mask, isn’t about preventing the virus from getting in, it’s about preventing it from getting out … when the wearer coughs, sneezes, or just speaks. It is the right thing to do from a public health perspective.

      The advice to not wear a mask unless you are infected doesn’t account for COVID-19’s long symptom-less incubation period and ease of transmission relative to flu.


      1. forumholitorium

        I just threw that out from the EUCDC for comparison, not because I think it’s correct.

        You’re right about it being the right thing to do from a public health perspective and that it protects other people more than the wearer. But what if you don’t have a mask and can’t sew your own like many people are starting to do? And what about the argument that the masks that are still available should be reserved for health professionals? That is part of the reason why I haven’t made an effort to get one yet.

        Though we can still take walks outside, I worry about walking through an area where someone may have been talking or running (deep breathing from exercise = more droplets shed, right?) three hours previous to me and shedding virus. Am I being paranoid?


  3. Bix Post author

    Wearing a mask does offer some protection to the wearer, but not much:
    Effectiveness of surgical masks against influenza bioaerosols, Journal of Hospital Infection, 2013.

    Live influenza virus was measurable from the air behind all surgical masks tested. The data indicate that a surgical mask will reduce exposure to aerosolised infectious influenza virus; reductions ranged from 1.1- to 55-fold (average 6-fold), depending on the design of the mask.


  4. forumholitorium

    The Austrian government just held a press conference where it announced several new measures to combat COVID-19, including that everyone in supermarkets must wear a surgical mask (Mund-Nasen-Schutz or MNS). By Wednesday masks should be available and will be distributed at the entrance to supermarkets. The chancellor said that they do not protect the wearer but that they help protect other people. That will make Austria the first European country to require masks.


    1. Bix Post author

      They’re handing them out! Oh my God, I’m so angry. The US is behind so many curves on this, except of course the cases curve. Ugh!

      I went to the grocery store yesterday wearing a black balaclava and it looked like I was ready to hold the place up. I don’t have any masks because I believed the CDC and Surgeon General that they weren’t necessary. And there are none to be had, except for the scams on Amazon.

      The CDC is holding the line too. This was their reply to Matt McCarthy (who said CDC was soon to require masks) on March 28 denying that they changed their mind:

      Replying to @DrMattMcCarthy
      CDC does not have updated guidance scheduled to come out on this topic. See current CDC guidance regarding the use of facemasks:


  5. Pingback: COVID-19: We Really Have Given Up | Fanatic Cook

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