Home face masks may be needed as US battles coronavirus: task force leader – National

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The coronavirus is “extraordinarily widespread” in the United States and the growing number of infections, including in rural areas, raises the prospect that some may need to wear masks at home.Dr Deborah Birx, head of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, made the case in an interview with CNN’s State of the Union over the weekend and highlighted the growing risks posed in multigenerational households as the virus continues to plague the country.

The United States remains the global epicenter of the outbreak, with new daily cases continuing to rise in dozens of states and in more rural areas as well.

“It is extremely widespread. It’s in rural areas as equal urban areas… for anyone who lives in a rural area, you are not immune or protected from this virus, ”Birx said in the interview.

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“If you are in multigenerational households and there is an epidemic in your rural area or town, you really need to consider wearing a mask at home, assuming you are positive, if you have people in your area. your household with co-morbidities. ”

READ MORE: ‘Now is not the time to be selfish’: How face masks have become a mirror of humanity amid COVID-19

Data from the Pew Research Center suggests that about 20% of Americans – or about 64 million people – live in multigenerational households.

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However, such living conditions pose a challenge for physical distance – still one of the most important ways to reduce the risk of the virus spreading.

A study from the University of Oxford suggests that part of the reason Italy’s coronavirus crisis was so deadly earlier this year is that so many households are multigenerational, with younger people going to work and bring the virus home to infect older relatives.

About 6.3% of Canadians – or 2.2 million people – live in multigenerational households.

READ MORE: When the coronavirus comes home: how to take care of an infected person

Coronavirus cases around the world are on the rise, with a jump of one million new cases in just four days, bringing the total number of global infections to more than 18 million.

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In all, 689,908 died from the virus.

While the virus originated in China and experienced explosive early growth there before moving around the world, the United States is now the global hotspot for cases amid persistent criticism that federal and state governments do not take the kind of concrete steps necessary to contain the virus. spread.

These include policies touted by public health leaders around the world, such as requiring masks, restricting social activities through lockdowns and curfews, and paying money in intensive contact tracing to detect any potential exposure to the highly contagious virus.

READ MORE: Are there any health risks from wearing a face mask? Not for most people

The Public Health Agency of Canada officially recommends wearing a non-medical (cloth) mask or other face mask whenever a person cannot physically move away from others.

Across the country, it sparked a wave of municipal bylaws and ordinances based on this recommendation by making it mandatory to wear masks in indoor locations.

These include grocery stores, retail stores, restaurants and this fall, most high schools in jurisdictions where they reopen.

But so far, public health officials have refrained from recommending that people wear masks at home unless they are caring for an infected person in the residence or they are themselves- even infected and live with another person.

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