News, Videos, and More from the City of Racine, the State of Wisconsin, the USA, & the World
Wednesday, June 17, 2020
Fauci: why the public wasn't told to wear masks when the coronavirus pandemic began
Medical masks and cloth face coverings are now a common sight when venturing out in public amidst the coronavirus pandemic; most states require them as part of reopening plans, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advocates their use.
This wasn’t always the case. When the coronavirus pandemic hit stateside, face masks were strictly recommended as personal protective equipment (PPE) for health care professionals. According to Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert and a key member of the White House coronavirus task force, masks weren’t advised to the public from the start because of the anticipated PPE shortages.
Speaking on TheStreet, Fauci discusses how effective face masks are at preventing COVID-19 infection and why they weren’t recommended from the start.
"Masks are not 100 percent protective. However, they certainly are better than not wearing a mask. Both to prevent you, if you happen to be a person who maybe feels well, but has an asymptomatic infection that you don't even know about, to prevent you from infecting someone else," Fauci said.
"But also, it can protect you a certain degree, not a hundred percent, in protecting you from getting infected from someone who, either is breathing, or coughing, or sneezing, or singing or whatever it is in which the droplets or the aerosols go out. So masks work,” Fauci added.
“The important thing is actually physical separation,” Fauci said, adding that the combination of social distancing and face masks is the best way for the public to mitigate the spread and reduce transmission while maintaining some normalcy by venturing in public.
He also acknowledged that masks were initially not recommended to the general public so that first responders wouldn’t feel the strain of a shortage of PPE.
He explained that public health experts "were concerned the public health community, and many people were saying this, were concerned that it was at a time when personal protective equipment, including the N95 masks and the surgical masks, were in very short supply.”
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