NEW YORK (AP) — While Americans continue to cover their faces in public in the continuing effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus, Minnesota state health officials pointed out in April how masks can be somewhat ineffective.
Dr. Michael Osterholm says in truth, regular masks, scarves, or other face protection won’t make much difference.
“It’s much more cosmetic,” Osterholm told WCCO’s Chad Hartman on Friday, pointing out nearly everyone in Hubei province in China was wearing masks for cultural reasons before the coronavirus outbreak began to grow.
“It didn’t do anything to stop it,” he said.
Osterholm is director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota
“If you want to wear a cloth mask, use it,” said Osterholm. “Know that I don’t believe, or none of my colleagues, that this is going to have a major positive impact. But whatever you do, please don’t use a surgical mask. Don’t go try to find them. Don’t take them. We’ve got to save them for our health care workers.”
“It’s a recommendation, they recommend it,” Trump told reporters. “I just don’t want to wear one myself.”
The change comes amid concerns from health officials that those without symptoms can spread the virus, especially in places like grocery stores or pharmacies. Officials stressed that medical-grade masks should be reserved for health workers and others on the front lines of the pandemic, with critical equipment in short supply.
Worldwide, confirmed infections rose past 1 million and deaths topped 58,000, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. Experts say both numbers are seriously undercounted because of the lack of testing, mild cases that were missed and governments that are underplaying the crisis.