'Please wear a face covering': Surgeon general urges caution for the holiday weekend

"If we all wear these we will actually have more independence and more freedom because more places will be able to stay open,” Adams said.
/ Source: TODAY

Dr. Jerome Adams, the United States surgeon general, recommends people wear masks to stop the spread of the coronavirus, but he would not go so far as to say it should be a requirement.

Adams appeared on TODAY Friday to talk about Fourth of July celebrations slated for Mount Rushmore and Washington, D.C., neither of which will make masks mandatory for people in attendance

Adams was discussing the need for people to remember the risk they face and their own personal circumstances when Craig Melvin said large gathering present the greatest risk right now.

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“Would you advise someone to go to a large gathering, yes or no?” he asked.

“Craig, it’s not a yes or no. Every single person has to make up their own mind. There are going to be people going to beaches, going to barbecues, going to different environments and they have to look at their individual risk,” he responded.

“As you mentioned, CDC says larger gatherings are a higher risk. You have to take that into account again with whether or not you’re at risk, whether you live with someone who is vulnerable. And then you have to take measures to stay safe and the most important thing I would say to people is if you do go out to a gathering or in public, please wear a face covering,” he said while holding up a mask.

Adams said wearing a mask will lead to more benefits down the line.

“As we talk about Fourth of July and independence, it’s important to understand that if we all wear these we will actually have more independence and more freedom because more places will be able to stay open,” he said. “We’ll have less spread of the disease.”

Craig played a clip from early March when Dr. Adams said people should not go out and buy masks because there was no evidence it could prevent the spread of coronavirus.

“What prompted the change of heart?” he asked.

“It’s important for people to understand that we now know 40 to 50% of cases of coronavirus spread asymptomatically and that’s different than any other coronavirus we’ve experienced before, which means you can have no symptoms, no cough, no fever and still be someone who’s spreading the disease,” Adams replied.

“We know that many of the new cases are being spread in much younger people and it’s why we now encourage everyone to wear a face covering or a mask, so that you can prevent asymptomatic spread.”

Craig asked why there is no requirement to wear masks at one of the Fourth of July celebrations. Adams said it may have the opposite effect.

“Here’s the challenge. If you make something mandatory, particularly the younger age groups we’re talking about, many of them will rebel and do the exact opposite. I think it’s more important from a health perspective that we help people understand why these are important and that we help them understand how they benefit from wearing them,” he said while holding a mask.

“If people understand why they’re doing it, they’re going to be more likely to comply. If it’s mandatory, they’ll only do it when someone’s watching.”