“The idea of getting a much more broad, community-wide use of masks outside of the health care setting is under very active discussion at the task force. The CDC group is looking at that very carefully,” Dr. Anthony Fauci,
the nation’s top infectious disease expert, told CNN’s Jim Sciutto on “Newsroom.”
The comments from Fauci, who said the task force will be discussing the potential recommendation on Tuesday, come a day after President Donald Trump said he could foresee a scenario where all Americans are recommended to wear masks
in public to curb the spread of the virus.
The idea runs counter to the current government directive that masks aren’t necessary for most people. A source close to the coronavirus task force told CNN on Monday that part of the issue with the possible recommendation is the current supply of masks
would not meet the ongoing demand.
Fauci also raised that concern on Tuesday, saying, “You don’t want to take masks away from the health care providers who are in a real and present danger of getting infected.”
“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.”
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had previously said that healthy people in the US shouldn’t wear masks
because they won’t protect them from the virus, and the World Health Organization on Monday stood by its recommendation only to wear a mask if you are sick or caring for someone who is sick.
Public health officials and medical professional had for weeks been urging healthy people to not stockpile the masks, which are now in short supply at some hospitals.
As of Tuesday morning, there are at least 162,000 known cases of the novel coronavirus in the US and more than 3,000 people have died, according to CNN’s tally.