WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump announced new guidance from the White House on Friday afternoon, saying the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were advising the use of “non-medical cloth based” face coverings.
But he emphasized the recommendations were voluntary and that he, for one, would not partake.
“I don’t think I’m going to be doing it,” he said.
After weeks of insisting Americans should not wear face masks to prevent the spread of coronavirus — and even suggesting their use could increase the chance of infection — administration officials this week engaged in a heated internal debate over reversing course, according to people familiar with the matter.
Behind the scenes, officials were divided about the wisdom of advising Americans to cover their faces in public, which some fear could cause a lapse in the social distancing efforts that remain officials’ best hope of preventing further spread.
While the CDC guidelines advocate something short of a medical mask, there was still a fear among some officials that any kind of guidance on face coverings could lead to Americans seeking out the type of masks still needed in hospitals.
While President Trump has publicly suggested using alternatives, the White House has not issued guidelines on which fabrics are best or how to properly tie loose cloth so that it covers the mouth and nose.