Dr. Anthony Fauci, the US's top infectious disease expert, said he’s “strongly in favor” of local mask mandates to help control the spread of the coronavirus.
“When you look at what we can do that we know works, it’s the use of masks, physical distance and avoiding crowds,” Fauci said at a press conference on Tuesday with Sen. Doug Jones, an Alabama Democrat.
“And I think to the extent in which this would be acceptable in the community, I am strongly in favor of mandating. I don’t like an authoritarian federal government, but at the local level, if governors and others mandate the use of masks when you have an outbreak, I think that would be important,” said Fauci, the director of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Disease.
As of Monday, 35 states plus Washington DC and Puerto Rico, had some type of mask requirement order in place as coronavirus cases surge in parts of the United States. Hospital ICUs are near capacity in some areas, including Florida and Texas.
Fauci, a member of the White House coronavirus task force, said he’d like to see consistency in using face coverings to slow the spread of the deadly virus.
“Individual mandates, wherever they come from, I think are important because when people get a signal that you may or may not want to wear a mask, which means it may or may not be helpful, that's a very confusing signal,” he said.
“So, if you’re saying it doesn’t matter whether you put it on or take it off, you're giving a wrong, mixed signal. The signal should be: Wear a mask. Period.”