The CDC director says the US could get the coronavirus under control within weeks if we took just one step: mask up. "If we could get everybody to wear a mask right now, I think in four, six, eight weeks we could bring this epidemic under control," Robert Redfield said, per Axios. He added, per People, "we could drive this epidemic to the ground." Redfield co-authored a JAMA editorial Tuesday making that argument. As the pandemic has progressed, the authors write, it has become clear that "there is ample evidence that persons without symptoms spread infection and may be the critical driver needed to maintain epidemic momentum." Therefore, the donning of masks must be universal. The authors say, per Stat, a 15% increase in mask-wearing "could prevent the need to bring back stay-at-home orders that would otherwise cost an estimated 5% of gross domestic product, or a projected cost of $1 trillion."
Redfield said, at a discussion on the topic hosted by JAMA, that he's "heartened" to see more people wearing masks recently, including the president and vice president: "Clearly in their situation, you can easily justify they don't need to because of all the testing around them and they know they're not infected," he noted, "but we need them to set the example." The editorial cites several research papers showing the positivity rate can decrease with universal masking, and is titled, "Universal Masking to Prevent SARS-CoV-2 Transmission—The Time Is Now." Redfield echoed that sentiment in the discussion. "The time is now. We really need to embrace masking," he said. "We are not defenseless against this virus. We actually have one of the most powerful weapons you could ask for. The most powerful weapon we have that I know of is wearing face coverings." (Read more coronavirus stories.)