With the CDC now advising people to wear masks—and President Trump saying he won't do it—Anthony Fauci appeared on PBS Newshour to discuss the new guidance and other aspects of the coronavirus pandemic, including China's culpability and the effectiveness of a malaria drug on COVID-19. Fauci, an infectious disease expert, cautioned that masks provide less protection for the wearer than for someone the wearer is talking to:
- Force from your voice: "More and more accumulation of data indicate that people who are without symptoms at all can transmit the virus, but importantly, they can do it merely by speaking, so there's been a recent study that came out that said even the force from your voice from speaking, there is a degree of aerosolization, namely the virus can come out not very far, a few feet and down," he told PBS host Judy Woodruff.
- Infecting others: So staying 6 feet away is ideal, but not always possible when you have to run errands and shop for necessities—which is where masks come in. "And importantly I think people don't fully appreciate that putting a mask on yourself is more to prevent you from infecting someone else, and if everybody does that, we're each protecting each other," Fauci adds.
- What kind of mask: "We want to make sure that people don't ... go out and buy and hoard masks that are most appropriately used and necessary for the front-line health care workers," he said, adding that "some sort of facial covering" can suffice. "You know, we're pretty good in making things in a way that spontaneously becomes effective just because of your own creativity."
- Should masks be required? "By what?" he asked. "By penalty? By putting people in jail? I mean that becomes something that can really be counterproductive in the society we live in, in America. Perhaps you might be able to do that in China."
- Blame China? Fauci said he knew in early to mid January that the coronavirus was very serious, despite Chinese claims to the contrary. Woodruff asks if China officials are responsible for spreading misinformation that delayed the world's response: "Looks that way," he said.
- Hydroxychloroquine: Fauci also appeared on Fox & Friends and cautioned against believing hydroxychloroquine, a malaria drug, can treat the coronavirus. He said there isn't enough research yet: "We don't operate on how you feel, we operate on what evidence and data is."
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