The CDC recommends people wear cloth masks in public – but Trump says he won't

“The CDC is not recommending the use of medical grade or surgical grade masks," President Donald Trump said, noting they need to be saved for medical professionals.

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/ Source: NBC News
By Geoff Bennett, Kristen Welker and Dartunorro Clark

President Donald Trump on Friday said new guidance from the Centers for Disease and Prevention urges Americans to wear cloth face coverings in public to prevent the spread of the virus.

"The CDC is advising the use of nonmedical cloth face covering as a voluntary health measure," Trump said during his Friday briefing. "It is voluntary. They suggested for a period of time. This is voluntary.”

“The CDC is not recommending the use of medical grade or surgical grade masks," he added, noting things such as the N95 respirators need to be saved for medical professionals.

“The CDC is not recommending the use of medical grade or surgical grade masks," he added, noting things such as the N95 respirators need to be saved for medical professionals.

The country has been dealing with a dire shortage of critical protective gear, including masks and gloves for medical professionals. Many Americans already have been opting to cover their noses and mouths with makeshift masks, including bandannas, scarves or other wraps.

However, Trump said he will not follow that guidance.

"I just don't want to wear one myself, it's a recommendation," he said. "Somehow sitting in the Oval Office behind that beautiful Resolute Desk, the great Resolute Desk, I think wearing a face mask as I greet presidents, dictators, kings, queens, I don't know, I don't see it for myself."

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Trump stressed that Americans should still follow the administration's social distancing guidelines. Surgeon General Jerome Adams also said hygiene is still important, particularly before putting on the mask.

"If you choose to wear a face covering, wash your hands first," he said.

Vice President Mike Pence addressed the potential for a mask advisory based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at Thursday's daily briefing on the pandemic.

He said the new guidance, based on "consultation and advice from the CDC and top health experts," would come "in the days ahead."

Bloomberg reported the expected guidelines on Thursday.

Trump said during a news briefing on April 2 that he invoked the Defense Production Act to get 3M Company to produce more masks. Trump has previously invoked the act and other measures to get the private sector to ramp up the production of ventilators and respirators.

Officials told NBC News on Thursday the advisory is aimed at reducing the risk of spread by people who are infected but not showing symptoms.

President Donald Trump earlier Thursday said he didn't think masks would be required.

"I don't think they'll be mandatory, because some people don't want to do that," he said. "If people wanted to wear them, they can. If people want to use scarves, which they have, many people have them, they can. In many cases the scarf is better, it's thicker, depending on the material."

This article was originally published April 3, 2020.