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U.S. Surgeon General asks people to stop buying face masks as coronavirus fears spread



Disposable face masks (image in public domain)

America’s top doctor wants you to stop buying up face masks.

“Seriously people- STOP BUYING MASKS!” U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams wrote in a tweet Saturday.

Panic about the COVID-19 coronavirus is emptying store shelves and making masks harder to get for health-care workers who really need them. In Central Mississippi, Polk’s Drugs in Byram told WLBT Friday that their Memphis, Tenn., supplier is unable to ship orders for facemasks and rubber gloves.

Adams is echoing advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that does not recommend face masks for healthy people:

  • CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
  • Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).

Adams followed up his Saturday tweet with a string of seven tweets Sunday morning “focused on sharing the facts about #COVID19 and stopping the spread of rumors.”

Most of his tweets linked to the CDC’s website, which provides complete and accurate information about the disease, its spread and how to protect yourself from it.

Included is an exhaustive list of measures that all of us should take to prevent any kind of viral infection. The list contains a wealth of common-sense advice including washing your hands frequently (and providing information on how to do that) and staying home if you are not well.

COVID-19 shows little signs of slowing its spread.

The number of cases worldwide now exceeds 88,000 and 3,000 deaths. More than 42,000 people have fully recovered. Most cases, 79,828, are still in China, where the virus was first diagnosed; however, the highest number of new cases are now being reported outside of China, especially in South Korea, Italy and Iran.

China has taken extraordinary measures to prevent the spread of the disease, including surrounding and quarantining entire towns and preventing businesses from re-opening. As a result, the rate of new infections seems to be slowing there.

The financial economy has entered “correction” territory due to the disease. International markets have plunged in the past week in reaction to the virus’ rapid spread and disruption of supply chains. The U.S. S&P 500 and Dow Jones, along with Britain’s FTSE 200, Germany’s DAX and Japan’s Nikkei 225 have all fallen 10% or more in some of the steepest drops since the 2008 Great Recession.

In the U.S., 71 cases have now been confirmed. The U.S. reported its first case on Jan. 30 and recorded its first death from the disease on Saturday, Feb. 29, with the death of a 50-year-old man near Seattle, Wash. Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee has proclaimed a state of emergency.

Vice President Mike Pence, tasked with managing the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S. by President Donald Trump, said in a press conference that he has issued new “do not travel” warnings to areas in Italy and South Korea, and is barring any travel to Iran, countries all hit hard in recent days.

President Trump attempted to calm fears during Saturday’s press conference, appealing to “the media and politicians and everybody else involved not do anything to incite a panic because there’s no reason to panic at all.”

During a political rally Friday, he accused Democrats of politicizing the outbreak and manufacturing panic.

For more information, please visit the CDC website, and read our previous stories about the virus here and here.

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