WASHINGTON, DC -- President Donald Trump announced new federal guidelines Friday recommending that Americans wear face coverings when in public to help fight the spread of the new coronavirus. The president immediately said he had no intention of following the advice himself, saying, “I'm choosing not to do it."
The new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encourages people, especially in areas hit hard by the spread of the coronavirus, to use rudimentary coverings like T-shirts, bandannas and non-medical masks to cover their faces while outdoors.
The president exempted himself from his administration's own guidelines, saying he could not envision himself covering his face while sitting in the Oval Office greeting world leaders.
“It's a recommendation, they recommend it," Trump said. “I just don't want to wear one myself.”
The new guidance, announced at a time when states are bracing for critical shortfalls like those that other parts of the world have experienced, raises concern that it could cause a sudden run on masks if Americans turn to private industry to meet the expected surge in demand.
Trump and other administration officials sought to minimize any burden by stressing the recommendations did not amount to requirements and a variety of homemade coverings were perfectly acceptable. Federal officials stressed that surgical masks and N95 respirators should be left for those on the front lines of fighting the spread of the infection.
Meanwhile, the president said he is directing FEMA to prevent export of N95 medical-grade face masks under the Defense Production Act.
However, Trump continues to resist a nationwide stay-at-home directive, despite his top health official stressing more strongly than ever that strict social distancing is key to saving American lives.
Trump on Friday was facing new pressure from the nation's top infectious disease expert to call for a nationwide stay-at home order to keep the coronavirus from spreading and making the projected death toll even worse.
In his strongest comments yet, Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has become a prominent face in the fight against the pandemic, is now saying that he "doesn't understand" why every state isn't under a stay-at-home order -- a move Trump continues to resist, arguing those decisions should be left to the states.