On Friday, April 3, 2020, the White House urged Americans to wear homemade facemasks when they leave the house in efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The guidance is in response to a growing concern that asymptomatic individuals could unwittingly transmit the disease while in public. Facemasks could slow that transmission. The guidance mirrors similar recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In a press briefing, the President emphasized that the guidance does not call for Americans to use surgical masks or N95 respirator masks. There is currently a severe shortage of such personal protective equipment, so these types of masks should be reserved for medical professionals and hospitals. Additionally, it is important to note that the recommendation does not replace existing guidelines urging Americans to stay home whenever as possible, avoid social gatherings, and engage in social distancing.