White House Coronavirus Task Force member Dr. Anthony Fauci says local leaders should be “as forceful as possible” about getting Americans to wear masks to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
“I can say as a public health official I would urge the leaders, the local, political and other leaders in states and cities and towns to be as forceful as possible in getting your citizenry to wear masks,” Fauci said Friday during a video conference with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Breitbart reported.
“Masks are important as part of the physical distancing,” Fauci said. “Physical distancing is the most important, but practically when you’re living your life and trying to open up the country. You are going to come into contact with people. And for that reason, we know that masks are really important. And we should be using them. Everyone.”
Fauci’s comments came as the U.S. broke another record in the number of positive coronavirus tests reported in a 24-hour period on Thursday, with 75,000 positive results. The term positive results is used because some people are tested for the virus more than once and some states have been counting multiple positive tests as new cases.
Whether to require people to wear masks has become a huge debate in the U.S. in recent weeks as more positive test results are reported.
Trump speaks out
27 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have mandatory mask orders in place, with some specific requirements varying between governments. Some have challenged the constitutionality of mask orders and said that the orders are not enforceable because they are not laws passed by a legislature.
President Donald Trump said in an interview with Chris Wallace that will air on Sunday that he will not issue a nationwide mandatory mask order, although he supports people wearing them.
“I want people to have a certain freedom and I don’t believe in that, no,” Trump said about requiring masks nationwide, according to The Hill.
Trump acknowledged the debate surrounding masks, saying that experts like Fauci and the surgeon general told people in the early days of the virus not to wear masks, then later urged mask wearing.
He also said he disagreed with CDC director Robert Redford’s statement earlier this week that if everyone wore a mask, the country could get the pandemic under control in four to six weeks. “I don’t agree with the statement that if everyone wore a mask, everything disappears,” Trump said, The Hill reported.
Not a federal issue
Trump’s Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said previously that masks were a state issue, not a federal one.
A July Morning Consult study showed that of the minority of people who are refusing to wear masks, 26% said they didn’t think they were effective in stopping the coronavirus and another 19% said they didn’t need masks because they were already social distancing.