In a draft document obtained by STAT, the CDC recommended that the public use homemade face covers when in public, reserving high-quality protective equipment such as N95 masks for hospitals and health care workers , who have faced severe shortages of personal protective equipment like the pandemic coronavirus has accelerated in the United States.
These facial covers, according to the draft guidelines, are not intended to protect the wearer, but rather to prevent the wearer from unknowingly spreading the disease in public. Individuals should wear face covers in public places such as grocery stores, as directed. Children under 2 years of age and people who have difficulty breathing would be excluded from the mask guidelines.
This advice would be used to prevent Americans from unknowingly spreading coronaviruses before they develop symptoms. Evidence has shown that people infected with coronavirus are sometimes contagious two days before the onset of symptoms.
The official warned that the recommendations were not yet final and that the White House could still modify its final recommendation.
The CDC has recognized that wearing masks in public is very unusual behavior in the United States, although tactics have long been used as a measure of personal hygiene in countries that have successfully slowed their coronavirus epidemics, such as the Japan and South Korea.
The White House did not immediately respond to STAT’s request for comment.