White House To Urge Public To Cover Faces As Scientists Say Virus Can Be Transmitted By “Normal Breathing”

The Washington Post reports:

The White House is expected to urge Americans to begin wearing cloth masks or face coverings in public to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, in a reversal of its earlier recommendations, according to a federal official involved in the response.

Simple cloth masks that cover the mouth and nose can prevent virus transmission from individuals who are infected but have no symptoms when they are out buying groceries, the guidance states.

It makes clear the cloth covering is not intended to protect the wearer, but to prevent the spread of the virus from the wearer to others. It noted the face coverings could be made at home at a low cost.

CNN reports:

A prestigious scientific panel told the White House Wednesday night that research shows coronavirus can be spread not just by sneezes or coughs, but also just by talking, or possibly even just breathing.

“While the current [coronavirus] specific research is limited, the results of available studies are consistent with aerosolization of virus from normal breathing,” according to the letter, written by Dr. Harvey Fineberg, chairman of a committee with the National Academy of Sciences.

Fineberg said it’s possible that aerosolized coronavirus droplets can hang in the air and potentially infect someone who walks by later.  He added, however, that coronavirus is not as infectious as measles or tuberculosis.