Should you wear a face mask? White House Coronavirus Task Force considering new guidance, Dr. Fauci says

The top infectious disease doctor in the United States said the White House Coronavirus Task Force is discussing whether the general public should be wearing masks.

"The idea of getting a much more broad community-wide use of masks outside of the health care setting is under very active discussion," said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Fauci told CNN the issue of facial coverings would be discussed at Tuesday's task force meeting, but that determination could only come when there are enough for health care workers

"(The) thing that has inhibited that a bit is to make sure that we don't take away the supply of masks from the health care workers who need them, but when we get in a situation where we have enough masks, I believe there will be some very serious consideration about more broadening this recommendation of using masks," he said. "We're not there yet, but I think we're close to coming to some determination."

Currently, the CDC says masks should only be worn if you're sick or you're taking care of someone who is.

Hospitals nationwide are seeking additional Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for their workers, as the COVID-19 pandemic hits hard.

Dr. A. Jay Chauhan, president of the Chicago Medical Society, said 47 percent of emergency room doctors surveyed think their institutions are not doing enough to protect them from COVID-19. But general mask wearing probably won't help because what's needed is the sophisticated N95 mask - the one in short supply for frontline medical staff.

"If you sneeze, that prevents droplets from going out in a bit very small angle doesn't prevent it from going out the side of your mask," Dr. Chauhan warned.

The Chicago Medical Society is worried a call for general mask wearing will reduce social distancing, and soon we'll be like Spain where health care workers make up a disproportionate 14% of COVID-19 cases.

But the head of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention said America may be making a mistake by not mandating mask usage. An American researcher says 38 scientific papers back that up.

"They all tell the same story which is, wearing a mask can decrease transmission by up to 50%," said Jeremy Howard, a research scientist at the University of San Francisco.

"My concern is that people will feel a false sense of using a type of mask that may not protect others from their illness," Dr. Chauhan said.

Whether you wear a mask or not, medical experts agree that social distancing remains as important as ever in the fight to stop the transmission of COVID-19.
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