President Trump announced at his daily briefing today that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommended “non-medical, cloth” masks on a voluntary basis. This would include multifunctional neck gaiters like those offered by Buff, the originator of this category of outerwear. Of course, other neck gaiters, balaclavas, even the trusty handkerchief could potentially serve the intended purpose and logically, the smaller the passageways, the better. Doubling up of available cloth coverings could also improve the effect.
Until today, the Trump administration has been reluctant to suggest all Americans should wear a mask when leaving their homes. He also admitted that he wouldn’t be following the recommendation himself.
“Somehow, sitting in the Oval Office behind that beautiful Resolute Desk, wearing a face mask as I greet presidents, prime ministers, dictators, kings, queens — I just don’t see it,” stated the President.
The CDC has been urging President Trump to advise that everyone should wear a mask in public places to potentially curb the rate of infection in a significant way. Officials revealed this week that as many as a quarter of people infected may show no symptoms, reinforcing that masks are more to protect others and not the wearer.
The World Health Organization added today that while they recommend masks for front line health workers, the sick, and those caring for the sick, they also stated that homemade or cloth masks may help the overall response to COVID-19 at the community level.
The messaging was also clear that medical masks should be reserved for health care personnel. There is concern that a nationwide recommendation to wear masks could further overburden the supply chain for medical masks.
Some officials also fear that the recommendation for all Americans to wear a mask may falsely signal that social distancing is no longer required. Deborah Birx, coordinator of the White House coronavirus response stated on Thursday,
“We don’t want people to feel like, ‘Oh, I’m wearing a mask. I’m protected and I’m protecting others.'”
Buff posted a precautionary statement on their site in response to the expected increase in demand for their products:
“Pertaining to the CDC’s newest coronavirus protocols to wear homemade face coverings, BUFF’s website states that although our tubes cover the entire front of the face (nose, mouth, chin, and neck) BUFF head and neckwear is in no way scientifically proven to prevent the contraction of any virus/disease/illness or the passing of a virus/disease/illness to someone else.”