Pence says coronavirus face mask guidance is coming ‘in the next several days’

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White House task force may soon recommend Americans wear masks

The Trump administration is moving forward with the recommendation that most, if not all, Americans wear face coverings when outside of their home, according to The Associated Press.

The Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to recommend Americans wear cloth face masks, according to a report.

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The recommendation was expected at Thursday's coronavirus task force press briefing at the White House, according to Stat News, a publication of Boston Globe Media.

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"A person familiar with the White House coronavirus task force's discussion said officials would suggest that non-medical masks, T-shirts or bandannas be used to cover the nose and mouth when outside the home — for instance, at the grocery store or pharmacy," the AP reported Thursday. "Medical-grade masks, particularly short-in-supply N95 masks, would be reserved for those dealing directly with the sick."

According to a federal official who has seen the draft document, the CDC guidance would make the recommendation to wear a facial covering. Exceptions would be children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing or anyone who is unable to remove the covering without help.

When asked about mask-wearing at the news conference, White House Coronavirus Task Force Member Dr. Deborah Birx emphasized that hand washing is the most important.

“We don’t want people to get an artificial sense of protection because they are wearing a mask,” she said, adding that when and if the advisory on face masks comes out, it will be additive, not a substitute for existing guidelines.

Vice President Mike Pence said the face mask guidance from the CDC and “top health experts” will be coming “in the next several days.”