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UCSF professor weighs in on CDC’s face covering recommendation

Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) — The CDC is advising people to wear cloth face coverings in public to stop the spread of the coronavirus after weeks of recommending people to only wear masks if you’re sick.

DIY masks are not going to protect you like the N95 respirators that doctors and nurses wear.

Medical experts say cloth coverings can be used as an added health measure especially for asymptomatic people who don’t know they’re infected.

After weeks of advising Americans to only wear masks if you’re sick, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now recommending people to use cloth face coverings to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

KRON4 spoke with Dr. George Rutherford, an Epidemiology Professor at UCSF.

“We’re really trying to do now is prevent people who may be asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic from spreading the infection so it’s the reverse logic,” Dr. George Rutherford said.

The guidelines were designed to make sure medical workers on the front lines have enough supply of surgical masks and respirators.

“The idea we cloth masks is that you can either have them or buy them or make them or use a scarf or use a bandana or use a handkerchief so when you breath out cough or sneeze, if you’re infected it’s going to catch it in front of your face and not spread it around,” Dr. Rutherford said.

The CDC advises to use cloth masks in areas where it’s hard to physical distance like grocery stores and pharmacies.

Medical experts are studying the spread and effects of the evolving coronavirus.

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams talked about the changes at Friday’s coronavirus task force briefing.

“We now know from recent studies that a significant portion of individuals with coronavirus lack symptoms. They’re what we call asymptomatic,” Adams said. “And then even those who eventually become pre-symptomatic, meaning that they will develop symptoms in the future, can transmit the virus to others before they show symptoms.”

Dr. Rutherford says in Italy, about 12-percent of COVID-19 cases are health care workers — one of the reasons they’re short staffed.

“One thing we can’t afford in managing this epidemic is having sick health care workers who can’t work and to the extent that people are diverting the surgical mask supply and even more importantly the N95 mask supply for personal use and that ends up getting healthcare workers sick, that’s going to be a big big problem,” Dr. Rutherford said.

Cloth masks are not a substitute for social distancing.

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