- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, on Tuesday said President Trump should wear a mask to set an example for the public amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“I’m glad to see the president wear a mask… and the vice president,” Dr. Redfield said.

“Clearly in their situation, they [can] easily justify they don’t need to because of all the testing around them and they know they’re not infected, but we need them… to set the example,” he said.

Dr. Redfield called mask-wearing a personal responsibility for everyone.

“I think if we [can] get everybody to wear a mask right now, I really do think over the next 4, 6, 8 weeks we can bring this epidemic under control,” he said.

But he also warned that the upcoming winter, when the seasonal flu is added to the mix, will present unique challenges.

“I am worried — I do think the fall and the winter of 2020 and 2021 are going to be probably one of the most difficult times that we [have] experienced in American public health,” he said.

He said that while few states actually ended up following CDC guidance on reopening plans, he doesn’t think reopenings are what’s driving a resurgence of the virus in places like California, Arizona, Texas and Florida.

“Something happened in mid-June that we’re now confronting,” he said. “And it’s not as simple as just saying it was related to timing of reopening and not reopening.”

He said “something” started to happen in mid-June irrespective of when states relaxed their restrictions.

“We’re of the view that there was something else that was the driver,” he said. “Maybe the Memorial Day week, where a lot of northerners decided to go south for vacations. The southern groups had never really taken the mitigation steps that seriously [because] they really didn’t have an outbreak.”

Dr. Redfield was speaking at a live-streamed event hosted by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Network.

Members of the White House coronavirus task force frequently talk up the importance of mask-wearing for the general public in trying to combat the spread of COVID-19, though they typically don’t gear the advice so directly toward one or two individuals.

Mr. Trump has generally declined to wear a mask in public, though he did wear one when he visited Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Saturday.

Members of the president’s team quickly rushed to share pictures and praise the mask-clad Mr. Trump for the move.

Mr. Trump said ahead of the visit that he’s never been opposed to masks but that they have a “time and a place.”

“I think when you’re in a hospital, especially in that particular setting, where you’re talking to a lot of soldiers and people that, in some cases, just got off the operating tables, I think it’s a great thing to wear a mask,” he said.

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