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President Donald Trump announced new federal guidelines Friday recommending that Americans wear face coverings when in...
President Donald Trump announced new federal guidelines Friday recommending that Americans wear face coverings when in public to help fight the spread of the new coronavirus. The president immediately said he had no intention of following that advice himself, saying, “I’m choosing not to do it.”
The new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encourages people, especially in areas hit hard by the spread of the coronavirus, to use rudimentary coverings like T-shirts, bandannas and non-medical masks to cover their faces while outdoors.
The president exempted himself from his administration’s own guidelines, saying he could not envision himself covering his face while sitting in the Oval Office greeting world leaders.
“It’s a recommendation, they recommend it,” Trump said. “I just don’t want to wear one myself.”
The new guidance, announced as states are bracing for critical shortfalls like those that other parts of the world have experienced, raises concern that it could cause a sudden run on masks.
Trump and other administration officials sought to minimize any burden by stressing the recommendations did not amount to requirements and that a variety of homemade coverings were acceptable. Federal officials said that surgical masks and N95 respirator masks should be left for those on the front lines of fighting the spread of the infection.
Friday’s announcement capped an evolution in guidance from the White House that officials acknowledged has at times been inconsistent and confusing, with the administration insisting over the last month that masks were not necessary or even helpful.
“I want to unpack the evolution of our guidance on masks because it has been confusing to the American people,” Surgeon General Jerome Adams said Friday.
Adams said that although and he other public health experts initially believed wearing a mask would not have a substantial impact on curbing the spread, the latest evidence makes clear that people who don’t show any symptoms can nonetheless pass on the virus.
“We’re looking at the data, we’re evolving our recommendations, and new recommendations will come as the evidence dictates,” Adams said.
First lady Melania Trump embodied the contradictory messaging with a tweet endorsing the new guidance even as her husband chooses to disregard it.
“As the weekend approaches I ask that everyone take social distancing & wearing a mask/face covering seriously,” she tweeted.
The administration has said states should have done more to stockpile medical supplies, but it’s not clear if anyone is prepared for the potential rush that could ensue if people try to obtain medical masks for themselves from private industry.
In rural Florida, Okeechobee Discount Drugs has been sold out of face masks for almost two weeks, and “we don’t know where you can find any masks at this point,” said Stacey Nelson, one of the pharmacy’s owners.
“It’s very hard to get these products, but people want them,” Nelson said. “They’ve been getting mixed messages and people aren’t sure if they should be wearing masks in our daily lives. It’s very confusing. Wear them, or don’t wear them?”
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.
In fashioning the recommendations, the administration appeared to be striving to balance political concerns about wanting to preserve as much normalcy as possible with public health concerns that some infections are being spread by people who seem to be healthy.
The White House has faced pushback against rigorous social distancing guidelines from states with lesser rates of infection. For the hardest-hit areas, where social distancing has already been in place for some time, the White House coronavirus task force thought there would be less risk of people ignoring the other guidance if they covered their faces.
The CDC is recommending that people wearing cloth face coverings in public places, such as grocery stores and pharmacies, where “other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.” The guidance especially applies “in areas of significant community-based transmission.”
The White House task force was debating into Friday on the final language of the CDC guidance. CDC scientists wanted to make it national guidance, believing that would do more to slow the spread of the virus.
White House advisers, including Dr. Deborah Birx, wanted to limit the guidance to virus hot spots. Birx said Thursday that she feared wider guidance would lead to a false sense of security for Americans and cause them to back away from more critical social distancing.
In the end, they found a middle ground: a national advisory with special emphasis that those in hard-hit areas should wear masks. Two people familiar with the discussions outlined the internal debate, speaking on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to describe it publicly.
As with other public health guidance, the recommendation on face covering has been a moving target for the administration. Under the previous guidance, only the sick or those at high risk of complications from the respiratory illness were advised to wear masks.
Adams wrote on Twitter at the end of February that people should “STOP BUYING MASKS” and said they were not effective in protecting the general public.
On Monday, he noted that the World Health Organization does not recommend masks for healthy members of the population. Three days later, he tweeted that though there remains “scant” evidence that wearing a mask, especially improperly, can protect the wearer, “emerging data suggests facial coverings may prevent asymptomatic disease transmission to others.”
Dr. Michael Ryan, the WHO’s emergencies chief, on Friday acknowledged a “very important and very healthy debate” about how masks are used.
“We still believe the main driver of this pandemic is symptomatic (transmission),” he said, not people who may be infected but aren’t showing symptoms.
“We can certainly see circumstances in which the use of masks — but homemade or cloth masks — at the community level may help in an overall comprehensive response to this disease,” Ryan said.
CHICAGO – While the lack of testing has created holes, the data still provides a snapshot...
CHICAGO – While the lack of testing has created holes, the data still provides a snapshot of the spread of COVID-19 county-by-county through the area.
WGN Investigates has been pouring over it to detail the impact of COVID-19 in our area.
Chicago is the local epicenter, with at least 3,427 confirmed cases and at least 43 deaths. The rest of the area breaks down as follows.
It’s been six days since suburban nurse Adriana Sanchez went to a drive-thru COVID-19 testing facility for health care workers. Still, she does not have an answer.
“No one really is 100-percent sure where our tests were sent,” Sanchez said. “They think it was Quest not they’re not for sure. I don’t know who to turn to get answers.”
Sanchez’s testing troubles, and the fact so few people are able to get tested, illustrate why truly tracking the virus’ spread has been proven difficult.
Many people have asked about the virus’wildly different impact on people. In suburban Cook County, the health department reports on the severity of cases.
121 people were hospitalized in intensive care, 259 were hospitalized but did not require intensive care. The majority of confirmed cases, 473, were never hospitalized.
Nurse Adriana Sanchez is among them, but she cannot return to work until her test results come back.
“It’s just really frustrating. I’d like to know for sure, that was the whole point of being tested,” she said.
State health officials said they are aware of the testing delays.
CHICAGO — Illinois health officials announced 1,209 new cases of COVID-19 and 53 additional deaths. On...
CHICAGO — Illinois health officials announced 1,209 new cases of COVID-19 and 53 additional deaths.
On Friday, the Illinois Department of Public Health is reporting a total of 8,904 cases, including 210 deaths, in 64 counties in Illinois. The age of cases ranges from younger than one to older than 100 years.
At a press conference Friday afternoon at McCormick Place, Gov. JB Pritkzer FEMA and the construction workers who helped get the the alternate care facility ready for patients with COVID-19. On Friday, 500 of the eventual 3,000 beds were ready.
The governor addressed the issue of wearing masks in public, even if the person is not sick. He said there is a reason people are raised to cover their mouths or use an elbow when they cough and sneeze.
“The most important thing you can do is to stay home,” Pritkzer said. “But when you do go outside…wearing something to cover your face is a good idea based upon what the science says.”
The governor said people can wear homemade fabric masks or manufactured general medical masks, but really just something to cover their nose and mouth. The masks, the governor said, are a courtesy to those around them in the event that someone is asymptomatic or presymptomatic.
The governor said wearing a mask is just one more way to help take care of one another in our state.
DeWitt, Effingham and Jersey counties are now reporting cases.
The governor said the state has not reached the capacity of hospital beds or ICU beds. However, but only 41% of hospital beds and 29% of ICU beds are available statewide and they are filling up fast.
Currently, there is enough staff and equipment to staff the first 500 beds at McCormick Place but there is a concern there will not be enough PPE available.
ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. – A group of Hersey High School students is desperately trying to save...
ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. – A group of Hersey High School students is desperately trying to save graduation.
They are appealing to the school district to reschedule it, not cancel it.
Senior year has been great for Emily Butryn and Hannah Van Merven. Now, all they want to have is a traditional graduation. But they said District 214 isn’t giving them that option.
“One (option) was to keep it scheduled where it is now, but change the type of commencement that it was or to cancel it,” said Burtyn. “There was no hope in the message about a possible reschedule.”
The two have started an online petition that’s amassed over 3,000 signatures. Students just want to have traditional graduation at a later date and not have it virtually or an outright cancellation.
“We want to walk that stage,” said Van Merven. “Get our diplomas, in our caps and gowns.”
The district’s superindentent said they are incredibly sorry in a statement on its website.
“To our seniors and their families, I am incredibly sorry that your senior year hasn’t ended the way any of us would have expected or wanted.”
The district said public health concerns and social distancing means the May 20 graduation will not go on traditionally.
Students hope the administation will consider the petition as voting continues for a virtual graduation or canceling it.
“It just seems that we’re moving to the next level without really finishing it out and being able to say goodbye,” Van Merven said.
As of right now, May 20 remains the graduation date.
For the latest weather updates, go to wgntv.com/weather.
For the latest weather updates, go to wgntv.com/weather.
Drew Peterson has plenty of options for the next phase in his college basketball journey. The...
Drew Peterson has plenty of options for the next phase in his college basketball journey.
The Libertyville graduate decided to put his name in the NCAA transfer portal on March 31 after two seasons playing for Rice.
A year ago, Peterson questioned his ability to play major college basketball….
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