Face Masks Recommended for New Yorkers Going Out in Public

MANHATTAN (CN) — New Yorkers should wear face coverings when they go outside and will be around other people, Mayor Bill de Blasio advised Thursday in his daily briefing on what is being done in the national hotspot for Covid-19 infections. 

Emphasizing that the coverings need not be a professional surgical mask, de Blasio said scarves and bandanas will suffice. The recommendation came as new reports show asymptomatic transmission of the virus could be more frequent than previously thought. 

Patrons wait in line at a Queens location of the supermarket Trader Joe’s on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

“What that means is, when you put on that face covering, you’re protecting everyone else,” de Blasio said. 

The White House is expected to issue similar guidance nationwide.

Though Americans had previously been told masks were not necessary, that guidance has changed as researchers learned more about the virus. As many as 25% of people with the virus never show symptoms, CDC Director Robert Redfield said earlier this week. 

New York City health commissioner Oxiris Barbot reflected on the developing guidelines in the press conference Thursday.  “It is a message that we have been conveying to New Yorkers over the last couple of weeks, and each time we’ve given new guidance, it’s another thing that we’ve needed to get adjusted to,” said Barbot, a medical doctor who did her residency in pediatrics. “But I think New Yorkers are resilient and adaptable and people have been rising to the occasion.”

Barbot said people should ensure that, even with a face covering, they are staying six feet away from each other unless they live together under the same roof. Children should also wear face coverings while outside in the city.

To save professionally made masks for health care workers, de Blasio encouraged New Yorkers to make their own. Recounting a recent conversation with President Trump, the mayor said he emphasized the country is at war.

“This is a wartime dynamic,” he said, calling this paradigm shift one that Washington has yet to fully understand.

“We’re in the middle of a war; we can feel it here in New York City.” 

De Blasio also called for a kind of national draft of health care workers of any experience level to work on the front lines of the virus fight.

In separate remarks from Albany this morning, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo called his state a microcosm of the rest of the country.

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