White House expected to recommend Americans wear masks amid pandemic


U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration is expected to issue guidelines this week encouraging Americans to wear masks or face coverings when leaving the home amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Vice President Mike Pence said on Thursday that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will issue the advisory in the “next several days” while Trump said the guidance would not be mandatory.

The guidance would reverse the government’s current recommendations. The White House has forecast a grim two weeks as the outbreak ascends to its apex and public health authorities are desperately seeking ways to prevent the spread of the virus.

Deborah Birx, a top official on the White House’s coronavirus task force, said face coverings should not give people a “false sense of security”. Meanwhile, Trump on Thursday said his second test for the novel coronavirus came back negative.

Trump said he took the test “really out of curiosity to see how quickly it worked,” adding that the test took around 15 minutes. Trump was previously tested in mid-March for the virus.

Also on Thursday, Trump invoked the Defense Production Act to speed up the production of ventilators “to save American lives” and also to force manufacturers 3M to make face masks.

The act gives the president wartime powers to force the private sector to make supplies for national defense.

The president previously ordered car maker GM to produce ventilators, using the Defense Production Act, the first utilization of the measure during the coronavirus pandemic. (NAN)

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