CDC director: Face masks “our most powerful tool” to fight COVID-19

Dr. Robert Redfield spoke with KRMG Tuesday to urge Oklahomans to stop the spread through wearing masks, hygiene, and social distancing

TULSA — The Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a call for all Americans to help stop the spread of COVID-19 by employing “one of our most powerful weapons that you could have against this virus. It’s really just a simple face mask.”

CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield spoke with KRMG Tuesday morning from the CDC headquarters in Atlanta.

Early on in the pandemic, the CDC recommended that only people with symptoms wear face masks.

Dr. Redfield said that’s because early assumptions about the virus proved false.

“Clearly, when we were originally looking at masks, we were looking at it and understanding this disease as assuming that it was a symptomatic illness, similar to the flu, and that we recommended mask wearing for those people with symptoms, we wanted them to stay home and wear a mask,” he told KRMG Wednesday. “But, we didn’t really understand and appreciate at that time how much of this viral infection is asymptomatic or presymptomatic. Once we understood that, then we understood that really, face coverings have a critical role, to be what we call source control.”

“That’s our most powerful tool, that really could bring this outbreak down.”

—  Dr. Robert Redfield, Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

So, his messaging now is clear and consistent: Social distancing, hand hygiene, and avoiding large gatherings - and wearing face masks - are vital to slowing the viral spread.

“That’s our most powerful tool, that really could bring this outbreak down,” Redfield told KRMG. “That could have your state of Oklahoma really turn the tide - you’re clearly in an upward trend right now - if every Oklahoman would embrace that.”

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