- Vice President Mike Pence, the head of the US coronavirus task force, said on Saturday that the “average American” did not need to “go out and buy” a mask to protect themselves from coronavirus.
- At time same time, the vice president said the US was working with 3M and other manufacturers to produce at least 35 million more masks per month.
- Photos and reports have shown masks and other supplies have grown in demands as Americans grapple with the possibility of an outbreak in the US.
- The US surgeon general in a tweet told people to stop buying masks, calling them “NOT effective.”
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Vice President Mike Pence said at a press conference Saturday that followed the first US coronavirus death that there was no need for people in the US to buy and wear masks to protect themselves from COVID-19.
At a press conference Saturday, Trump and Pence, joined by other administration officials, spoke about coronavirus following the death of a person in Washington state.
“The president mentioned masks,” Pence said. “This morning we talked a great deal about additional medical supplies. Let me be very clear, and I’m sure the physicians who are up here will reflect this as well. The average American does not need to go out and buy a mask.”
The president at a press conference at the White House on Wednesday put the vice president in charge of the nation’s coronavirus strategy as the federal government faced criticism over its response to the virus as it continues to spread beyond China’s borders around the globe.
The US has access to 43 million medical masks, President Trump said, just one of the resources that he credited with ensuring the country is “prepared for whatever circumstance.”
Despite his assurance that Americans did not currently need the masks, the vice president said the country was contracting with 3M to create 35 million more masks each month. He also said the administration would be working with other – unnamed – mask manufacturers. He added it task force was working to develop a course of action that would prioritize that masks be available for the use by “high-risk” healthcare professionals.
Pence cited the president’s decision at the beginning of February to bar all foreign nationals from China as one of the major reasons that US citizens did not have to worry about the virus. His statement Saturday follows earlier guidance from the CDC, which said it did not recommend wearing masks to prevent the spread of the virus.
US Surgeon General Jerome Adams, echoed the vice president’s statement in a tweet Saturday, urging people to “STOP BUYING MASKS.” He said that they were “NOT effective” to the general public and added increased demand puts medical professionals at risk.
Meanwhile, supplies, like masks, have started to fly off store shelves in the US as people flock to stock up on supplies over fears of an outbreak. More than 64 people have been diagnosed in the US so far, and four are believed to be “community spread” cases where individuals contracted the virus without ever visiting China.
“I’m just a few days into this job,” the vice president said on Saturday of his position on the coronavirus task force. “I can tell you, having spent time with these extraordinary professionals the president just alluded to, having spoken directly to more than a dozen governors, including Gov. Jay Inslee this morning in Washington state: I think every American would be proud to know what I’ve heard about the work of HHS, the work of the CDC, and the work of all agencies.”
Seriously people- STOP BUYING MASKS!
They are NOT effective in preventing general public from catching #Coronavirus, but if healthcare providers can’t get them to care for sick patients, it puts them and our communities at risk!
– U.S. Surgeon General (@Surgeon_General) February 29, 2020