The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may start urging Americans to cover their faces in public amid the coronavirus outbreak, according to The Washington Post. If the advice is updated, The Post reported, the CDC would stress that surgical masks and N95 masks should be saved for medical professionals and that others should make their own masks. The CDC’s current advice is to wash hands, obey social-distancing advice, and stay at home. Some US doctors have long urged people to wear masks, contrary to government advice. The US has the most coronavirus infections in the world, and as of Monday it had recorded more than 3,564 deaths.
As of Tuesday morning, the CDC’s main COVID-19 web page recommended that only people with symptoms or those caring for them should cover their face. But that may soon change, according to The Washington Post, which cited two federal officials Monday night as saying the CDC was debating whether to formally encourage all people to cover their face when out in public. If it adopts the change, it would tell people to fashion their own face covers with cloth to free up surgical masks and N95 masks for medics and health workers, The Post reported, citing one of the officials. Health workers across the US — and in many countries — have reported severe shortages of personal protective equipment, with reports indicating some nurses in New York City have resorted to using plastic garbage bags in place of hospital gowns. –Yahoo News
ABOUT FACE: Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, revealed on Tuesday that the White House coronavirus task force is seriously considering guidance that Americans wear masks to help thwart the rapid spread of COVID-19. But the country’s top infectious disease expert also acknowledged that such a directive has been complicated by the nationwide dearth of personal protective equipment. “The idea of getting a much broader, community-wide use of masks outside of the health care setting is under very active discussion at the task force. The CDC group is looking at that very carefully,” Fauci told CNN. “The thing that has inhibited that a bit is to make sure that we don’t take away the supply of masks from the health care workers who need them,” he continued. “But once we get in a situation where we have enough masks, I believe there will be some very serious consideration about more broadening this recommendation of using masks.” Fauci cautioned that while “we’re not there yet,” he said he believed the task force was “close to coming to some determination” soon on whether to expand the administration’s recommended mitigation measures to include masks.
“Because if, in fact, a person who may or may not be infected wants to prevent infecting someone else, one of the best ways to do that is with a mask. So perhaps that’s the way to go,” he said, adding that the subject was “under very active consideration” and would be raised at the task force’s meeting on Tuesday afternoon. Some public health experts, including former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, have suggested that encouraging the wearing of masks in public could help curb the rate of COVID-19 transmission in the United States, which now has more confirmed cases than anywhere else in the world. –Politico
U.S. industry mobilized in the fight against the pandemic: GM today announced manufacturing details around building much-needed medical face masks. According to the company’s press release, it took the company less than seven days to go from nothing to producing the first production-made mask. The automotive giant said today in a released statement it expects to deliver 20,000 masks on April 8 and soon after, able to produce 50,000 masks a day once the production line is at full capacity. These face masks are a vital piece of personal protective equipment (PPE) used by front-line healthcare staff to protect themselves against the virus-causing droplets that are spread by patients through coughing and sneezing in clinical settings.
GM turned to global partners to create this manufacturing line within a week. The company sourced material from GM’s existing supply chain and acquired manufacturing equipment from JR Automation in Holland, Michigan, and Esys Automation in Auburn Hills, Michigan. As the company’s press release says, GM even created an ISO Class 8-equivalent clean-room in GM’s Warren manufacturing plant. GM and the UAW will seek two dozen volunteers to staff this new assembly line. “The first people we called were those who work with fabric vehicle components,” said Karsten Garbe, GM plant director, Global Pre-Production Operations. “In a few days, the company’s seat belt and interior trim experts became experts in manufacturing face masks.”
While this team was creating a face mask assembly line, others within GM were working towards creating ventilators. Last Friday, March 27, President Donald Trump signed a presidential directive ordering GM to produce ventilators and to prioritize federal contracts. This came hours after the automaker announced plans to manufacture the critical medical equipment needed for patients suffering from COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. Other automakers joined the fight, as well. Ford and GE Healthcare licensed a ventilator design from Airon Corp and plan to produce as many as 50,000 of them at a Michigan factory by July as part of a broader effort to provide a critical medical device used to treat people with COVID-19. Under this partnership, Ford said it expects to produce 1,500 Airon ventilators by the end of April, 12,00 by the end of May, and 50,000 by July. –Yahoo News