US President Donald Trump has vowed not to order Americans to wear masks to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
His comments came after the country’s leading infectious disease specialist, Dr Anthony Fauci, urged local and state leaders to be “as forceful as possible” in getting people to wear masks.
Wearing face blankets, Dr Fauci added, is “really important” and “we should use them, everyone”.
Wearing face covers has become very politicized in the United States.
President Trump, who previously resisted covering his face, wore a mask in public for the first time last Saturday.
But speaking to Fox News on Friday, Mr Trump said he disagreed with a national mask mandate, saying people should have “some freedom”.
In the southern state of Georgia, Republican Gov. Brian Kemp urged residents to wear masks next month.
Kemp appealed to state residents despite legal action a day earlier against Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms for making face covers mandatory in the city.
Ms Bottoms herself has tested positive for the coronavirus.
Oklahoma City officials are also considering a city-wide indoor mask requirement, in the absence of a state-wide mandate.
A number of US states, mostly southern states, are experiencing an increase in coronavirus cases.
There are now more than 3.6 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the United States, and there have been more than 139,000 deaths – the highest number of deaths in the world.