CDC in guidance released Friday recommended "universal face mask use" outside of the home for the first time since America's new coronavirus epidemic began.
CDC recommends 10 public health strategies to contain coronavirus's spread
In guidance released Friday, CDC wrote, "With colder weather, more time spent indoors, the ongoing U.S. holiday season, and … approximately 50% of transmission from asymptomatic persons, the United States has entered a phase of high-level [coronavirus] transmission where a multipronged approach to implementing all evidence-based public health strategies at both the individual and community levels is essential."
CDC in the guidance outlined 10 public health measures Americans should adopt to contain the coronavirus's spread amid the surge. In another shift, CDC in the guidance urged local governments to issue policies or directives to implement the public health measures, including requiring the use of masks for individuals in public spaces and using public transportation—the latter of which is a proposal that President-elect Biden has endorsed.
According to the Times, the guidance represents CDC's "most forceful" call yet for Americans and local governments to follow strategies intended to curb the coronavirus's spread.
In the guidance, CDC recommended:
- Mask wearing inside the homes if a household member is infected with the coronavirus as well as outside of the homes in any space—indoors or outdoors—where a physical distance of more than six feet cannot be maintained;
- Maintaining physical distance and limiting in-person contact;
- Avoiding nonessential indoor spaces and crowded outdoor settings;
- Increasing testing to quickly diagnose and isolate infected people;
- Identifying, quarantining, and testing close contacts of people with known cases of Covid-19;
- Safeguarding persons most at risk for severe illness or death;
- Protecting essential workers;
- Postponing travel;
- Increasing room air ventilation, enhancing hand hygiene, and cleaning and disinfection; and
- Achieving widespread availability and use of effective vaccines.
Margaret Honein, one of the guidance's authors and a member of CDC's Covid-19 emergency response team, warned that if these preventative measures are not implemented, the United States will continue to see widespread transmission of the virus and unnecessary deaths.
Honein stressed that Americans should take steps on their own to protect themselves against the coronavirus. "We want to make sure every person is aware that it's within their power to take this critical step: Wear a face mask and prevent transmission, and maintain physical distance from others," Honein said.
America's surging coronavirus epidemic
The recommendation comes as the United States on Friday reported more than 226,000 cases of the novel coronavirus, setting a new record for the most coronavirus cases reported in a single date, according to data compiled by the New York Times. On Sunday, U.S. officials reported about 173,457 new cases of the novel coronavirus.
As of Monday morning, U.S. officials had reported a total of nearly 14.8 million cases of the virus since America's epidemic began—up from about 14.2 million cases reported as of Friday morning.
According to the Times, the United States' average daily number of newly reported coronavirus cases over the past week was 196,826—which is up by 51% when compared with the average from two weeks ago.
As of Monday morning, data from the Times showed that the rates of newly reported coronavirus cases were "staying high" in Puerto Rico; Washington, D.C.; and 37 states that have had a daily average of at least 15 newly reported cases per 100,000 people over the past week. Those states are Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia.
The Times' data also showed that, as of Monday morning, the daily average of newly reported cases over the past seven days was "going down" in Guam and 12 states that had been seeing comparatively higher rates of coronavirus transmission. Those states are Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
In the U.S. Virgin Islands and Hawaii, meanwhile, rates of newly reported coronavirus cases were "staying low" as of Monday morning, according to the Times' analysis.
The United States on Sunday also reported about 1,111 new deaths tied to the coronavirus. As of Monday morning, U.S. officials reported a total of about 282,313 U.S. deaths linked to the virus since the country's epidemic began, up from about 273,518 deaths reported as of Friday morning.
Hospitalizations for Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, also surged to a new high on Sunday. According to data from The Atlantic's COVID Tracking Project, 101,487 Americans with Covid-19 were hospitalized for treatment on Thursday, including 20,145 who were receiving care in an ICU and 7,094 who were on a ventilator
Public health experts welcomed CDC's guidance, saying America's surging epidemic created a need for a unified public health strategy to combat the epidemic.
"The role of the CDC is to lead with the science," said Celine Gounder, an infectious-disease physician and member of Biden's Covid-19 advisory group. "In the absence of strong national guidance from the CDC, we've had a variety of responses across the country, some more scientifically grounded than others."
Separately, Jennifer Nuzzo, an epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins University's Bloomberg School of Public Health, said, "This idea of a 50-state solution is completely impractical when we live in one nation. We are not going to get past this pandemic unless we have a concerted national approach" (Tumin/Bogert, New York Times, 12/6; Holcombe/Andone, CNN, 12/6; Rabin/Mandavilli, New York Times, 12/4; Chen, Axios, 12/4; CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 12/4; New York Times, 12/4; "The COVID Tracking Project," The Atlantic, accessed 12/3).