Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Friday recommended “the universal use of face masks,” which includes wearing a face mask indoors and not at home.
In the Agency’s weekly report on morbidity and mortality, the CDC cited “high rates of transmission in the community” and urged Americans to take increased precautions to contain the spread of the virus. These precautions include the use of face masks in all indoor areas.
” The consistent and proper use of face masks is a public health strategy that is critical to reducing respiratory transmission of SARS-CoV-2, especially given estimates that about half of new infections are transmitted by people who do not have symptoms,” the agency wrote.
“Convincing evidence now supports the benefits of fabric face masks both for source control (to protect others) and, to a lesser extent, for carrier protection,” the CDC said.
The report found that wearing face masks indoors is most important, and when six feet of social distance cannot be maintained outdoors.
“Within households, face masks should be used when a member of the household is infected or has recently had potential COVID 19 exposure (e.g., known close contact or potential exposure related to work, crowded public places, travel, or non-household members in your home),” the agency added.
The recommendation to wear masks indoors comes a day after President-elect Joe Biden said he would promote the nationwide use of masks at the beginning of his presidency. On Thursday, Biden said he would urge Americans to commit to wearing masks for 100 days on his first day in office.
“On the first day of my inauguration, I will ask the public to wear 100 days of masks,” Biden said in an interview broadcast on CNN. “Only 100 days to mask me, not forever. One hundred days.”
“And I think we will see a significant reduction if this is done with vaccinations and masking to bring the numbers down significantly,” he added.
Washington Newsday asked the Biden transition team for additional comments, but did not receive a response in time for publication.
In addition to wearing masks, the CDC recommends that Americans maintain social distance and avoid crowded outdoor gatherings and unimportant indoor spaces, such as restaurants.
“These actions will build a bridge to a future of broad availability and high community coverage of effective vaccines, where a safe return to more everyday activities in a variety of environments will be possible,” the CDC said.
The CDC and Bidens’ recommendations come at a time when the U.S. is experiencing its worst COVID 19 outbreak to date.
On Thursday, the country reported the highest number of deaths in a single day, with over 3,100 people succumbing to the virus. The number of hospitalizations and infections is also on the rise, with over 100,000 people hospitalized in the country this week for the first time and the number of new daily cases exceeding 160,000.
In total, according to Johns Hopkins University, over 14.2 million infections and 277,958 deaths have been recorded in the U.S. since the beginning of the pandemic.
Experts have expressed fears that the virus increase could worsen after the Thanksgiving gatherings and as Americans prepare for the upcoming Christmas holidays.
Dr Anthony Fauci, the leading expert on infectious diseases, said on Newsday in Washington that January could be the worst month yet.
“January is going to be horrible,” he said, explaining that the country will “let the Thanksgiving wave eclipse the Christmas wave. So it is quite conceivable that January could be the worst month yet”.