Dr. Robert Redfield, the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, testified Wednesday that mask wearing may be a more effective protection against coronavirus than a potential vaccine.
"I might even go so far as to say that this face mask is more guaranteed to protect me against COVID than when I take a COVID vaccine, because the immunogenicity may be 70%. And if I don't get an immune response, the vaccine is not going to protect me. This face mask will," Redfield told lawmakers during public testimony on Wednesday, adding that the American public has not yet embraced the use of masks to a level that could effectively control the outbreak.
President Donald Trump has occasionally donned a mask and said they're important. But his actions send a different message to supporters: The White House and Trump's reelection campaign have also disregarded the CDC's guidance, state guidelines and local public health officials, permitting large crowds of rally-goers to stand shoulder to shoulder, not mandating mask wearing.
Other top Trump administration health officials, including Adm. Brett Giroir, assistant secretary for health and human services, and Dr. Bob Kadlec, assistant secretary for preparedness and response at the Department of Health and Human Services, also testified Wednesday to the importance of mask wearing in preventing the spread of coronavirus.
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After Trump questioned the effectiveness of masks on ABC, his press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, told reporters on Wednesday that the president has "always supported mask-wearing."
"Yesterday he was pointing to a quote, that event Dr. (Anthony) Fauci has noted, which is that masks can have unintended consequences. While we support wearing them, and it's patriotic to do so, the unintended consequence can be inappropriate usage," McEnany said.