Americans, almost all of them under orders to stay home except for essential outings such as grocery shopping or seeing a doctor, have heard conflicting guidance in recent days about the need for wearing face masks in public.
At the White House on Friday, President Donald Trump seemed to muddy the waters further when he announced that federal health authorities are now recommending individuals wear cloth face coverings to stem transmission of the virus. But he stressed the advisory was purely voluntary, and that he would not be heeding the recommendation himself.
“With the masks, it’s going to be a really voluntary thing. You can do it, you don’t have to do it. I’m choosing not to do it,” he said.
France 24 reported that doctors and nurses, many lacking adequate supplies of medical-grade face masks and other protective gear, were already confronting an onslaught from COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the highly contagious coronavirus.
One physician at a New York City hospital recounted arriving at work on Friday to learn that three of his COVID-19 patients had died that morning. A few hours later, he had intubated two others.