America’s top infectious diseases expert says double masking is a “common sense approach” to preventing the spread of coronavirus.
Dr Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden, recommended using two masks at a COVID-19 response news conference on Wednesday, saying there was “no harm” if people wanted to for added protection.
He said the US Center for Disease Control (CDC) could soon recommend the practice to stop the spread of coronavirus variants, although there isn’t yet enough data to make a formal recommendation.
Mr Fauci used the briefing to issue a warning over such mutations, urging Americans to continue to comply with public health measures to stop the spread of the disease.
He said: “The more we get the virus controlled globally, the better off we will be.
“We have to be concerned about the mutants. Viruses won’t mutate well if you don’t give them the opportunity to replicate in a very large way.”
He said “public health measures both home and abroad” would be key to preventing mutations, as well as a “comprehensive” vaccination programme.
Some 1.3 million doses are administered on average every day in the US, with officials confident they will hit the president’s target of 100 million jabs in his 100 days in office.
Dr Fauci’s warning about variants came after a similar message from Rachel Walensky, director of the CDC.
Having led the world for COVID-19 cases and deaths for much of the past year, new infections and hospitalisations appear to be on a downward trajectory, the White House Coronavirus Task Force said on Wednesday.
But Ms Walensky said that new variants popping up across the country – like one in California – could threaten that positive momentum.
Nearly 50% of all new coronavirus cases in southern California in January alone were traced to the new variant, CAL.20C, one of the pathologists to identify the strain told Sky News – far higher than previously believed.
It is different to the variants first found in the UK, South Africa and Brazil.
Overall, there have now been 26,446,439 cases and 447,737 related deaths in the US since the pandemic began, according to John Hopkins University.
Earlier on Wednesday, Dr Fauci urged Americans to skip any Super Bowl parties they might have hoped to attend, saying people should “just lay low and cool it”.
Tens of millions of people across the US tune in to watch the culmination of the NFL season each February, with many usually doing so alongside friends and family.
But Dr Fauci said now is not the time to invite people over for watch parties, because of the possibility that they are infected with the coronavirus and could sicken others.
Big events like Sunday’s game in Tampa, Florida, between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, are always a cause for concern over the potential for virus spread, Dr Fauci said.
“You don’t want parties with people that you haven’t had much contact with,” he told NBC’s Today show.
“You just don’t know if they’re infected, so, as difficult as that is, at least this time around, just lay low and cool it.”
The NFL has capped attendance at 22,000 people because of the pandemic and citywide coronavirus mandates.