Masks and face coverings are a common sight in public, with most states requiring masks as part of reopening plans, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advocates wearing masks in public.
When the coronavirus pandemic first hit the US, face masks were not recommended for the public, and only prescribed for healthcare professionals. According to Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious disease expert and a key member of the White House coronavirus task force, masks weren't advised for the public due to anticipated shortages of protective equipment (PPE) for essential workers and healthcare professionals.
Fauci explained that public health experts "were concerned the public health community, and many people were saying this, were concerned that it was at a time when personal protective equipment, including the N95 masks and the surgical masks, were in very short supply." Fauci said they wanted to have as many masks as possible available for front line workers and emergency personnel. "We wanted to make sure that the people, namely the health care workers, who were brave enough to put themselves in harm's way, to take care of people who you know were infected with the coronavirus and the danger of them getting infected," Fauci concluded.
Trish Greenhalgh, a primary-care professor at the University of Oxford, said to Olga Khaza at The Atlantic, that the public would likely be wearing masks until "there are no new cases, or very few cases."
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