Surgeon General Asks People Not to Use Face Masks

N95s face mask. (3M)
US Surgeon General Jerome Adams. (United States Department of Health and Human Services)

The Surgeon General of the United States, Dr. Jerome M. Adams, has gone public with his request that people who are not effected with the COVID-19 virus not use face masks to prevent being infected.

“Seriously people- STOP BUYING MASKS!” Dr. Adams tweeted Sunday, March 1, 2020. “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!”

As a result of the rush of the general public purchasing n95 respirator face masks, the supply available for health care workers is diminished, and a shortage of their availability can create a situation where they will be unable to prevent the spread of the virus from infected patients in their care to others.

According to the latest recommendations of the World Health Organization, people with no respiratory symptoms do not need to wear a medical mask. However, for people who have symptoms of COVID-19 and for those caring for individuals who have symptoms, WHO does recommend they utilize the face masks as a means of preventing its spread. In addition, the WHO cautioned against the waste of precious resources and misuse of masks for non-essential use as well.

Both the CDC and the WHO insisted that the most effective ways to protect against COVID-19 is frequent hand washing for a minimum of 20 seconds, utilizing an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol, covering a cough with the bend of elbow, and maintaining a distance of at least 3 feet from people who are coughing or sneezing.

The CDC has instructed health care workers who are treated suspected of confirmed cases of COVID-19 to wear masks known as N95s, which are thicker, fit more tightly around the mouth and nose, and block out much smaller particles than surgical masks do.