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CDC recommends Americans wear face masks voluntarily in public but some officials say they felt 'pressured' to draft new guidelines

Dr. Deborah Birx said she can tell by looking at the US curve of coronavirus cases that not every American is following the guidelines set out by the administration for people to stay home and be vigilant about washing their hands.

Posted: Apr 3, 2020 9:18 AM
Updated: Apr 3, 2020 10:00 PM


The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending people wear face coverings in public and health officials just reported the most deaths in a single day.

President Donald Trump announced the new guidelines Friday, saying it's a voluntary measure and people should not wear surgical or medical masks.

'It's really going to be a voluntary thing,' he said. 'I'm not choosing to do it.'

But some public health experts at the CDC said they felt 'pressured' by the White House to draft recommendations and were under 'intense pressure' to do it quickly, according to a senior federal health official involved in discussions.

'The CDC would not have gone this direction if not for the White House,' the senior official told CNN. 'We would have tried more to understand about asymptomatic transmission. We would have done more studies if we had more time.'

US Surgeon General Jerome Adams told reporters on Friday that officials were not recommending the use of masks to the public because their potential to slow down the spread of the virus was unclear.

Adams says that now face coverings should be worn especially when distancing protocols can be difficult to maintain.

Earlier this week, a panel of experts told the White House that research shows coronavirus can be spread not just by sneezes and coughs but also by talking and possibly breathing.

The new guidelines are the latest effort by the federal government to counteract the pandemic.

The US marked another grim milestone on Friday when health officials reported more than 1,400 deaths in a single day -- the highest daily death toll so far.

At least 277,828 people in the US have been infected, and more than 7,400 have died, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. Every state but Wyoming has reported deaths.

Trump won't issue national stay-at-home order

Nearly all Americans are under orders to stay at home Friday after most states have implemented their own in one form or another.

The federal government has not issued a mandate and Trump continues signaling his resistance to do so.

'I leave it up to the governors,' Trump said.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said all states should issue stay-at-home orders to slow the numbers' rise.

'I don't understand why that's not happening,' Fauci said during a CNN town hall Thursday. 'If you look at what's going on in this country, I just don't understand why we're not doing that.'

Your coronavirus questions, answered

New York will redistribute medical supplies to hospitals in need

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo will sign an executive order allowing the state to take ventilators and medical supplies from institutions that are not using them to relieve medical equipment shortages.

The governor is asking upstate hospitals to loan 20% of their unused ventilators to downstate medical facilities struggling to treat the surge of coronavirus patients.

'Moreover, when the pandemic wave hits upstate New York, the Governor will ask downstate hospitals for similar help,' Rich Azzopardi, a senior adviser to the governor, said in a statement. 'We are not upstate or downstate we are one state and we act that way.'

The need for ventilators has grown as the number of coronavirus cases climbs, with more than 102,000 cases and 2,935 deaths in New York as of Friday morning, the governor said. Of those deaths, 562 people died in the last 24 hours -- the biggest single-day increase in deaths.

'I'm not going to be in a position where people are dying and we have several hundred ventilators in our own state somewhere else,' Cuomo said.

A day earlier, Cuomo said the state has about six days left before it runs out of ventilators.

'It's like watching a slow-moving hurricane across the country, where you know the path that it's taking,' the governor said Thursday. 'Why not deploy the national resources and just stay ahead of the hurricane?'

CDC sets advice for returning to normal

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends communities be evaluated for four consecutive weeks and demonstrate three achievements before starting to return to normal life, according to a senior federal health official who has seen the guidelines submitted to the White House coronavirus task force.

Those recommendations require communities demonstrate a decrease in cases and deaths; a decrease in Covid-19 associated hospitalizations while keeping the capacity to care for the sick; and the public health capacity to investigate and control the virus.

It's unclear if the White House task force has approved those recommendations or when the measuring of those benchmarks would begin. But they appear to be in line with Trump's announcement this week to extend federal social distancing measures for 30 days.

CNN has reached out to the CDC about the recommendations multiple times but has not received a response.

Additionally, other guidelines submitted to the task force by public health experts include 'no new cases for 14 days' and 'the ability to detect new clusters' for certain parts of community life to resume, according to the source.

The World Health Organization on Friday warned countries need to be wary of lifting widespread lockdown orders too quickly without a good transition strategy.

'We don't want to end up in a cycle of lockdown, followed by release, followed by another lockdown, followed by release,' said Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO's health emergencies program. 'That's not the way forward. And the way to avoid that is we need a transition strategy that gets us back into more control of the virus.'

Virus can be spread through breathing, experts say

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis and Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf asked residents of their states to wear masks any time they leave home for essential needs.

'Having that as part of our culture here in Colorado and in the United States of America is a really important part of reducing the spread of the virus to save lives and return to a functional economy where people can go to work sooner rather than later,' Polis told reporters Friday.

Polis said residents should wear non-medical, cloth face masks or scarves and it should be 'part of everybody's personal hygiene practices.'

Masks should not, however, replace social distancing, Fauci said on Fox News' 'Fox & Friends' Friday.

'Because of some recent information that the virus can actually be spread even when people just speak as opposed to coughing and sneezing, the better part of valor is that when you're out and you can't maintain that 6-foot distance to wear some sort of facial covering,' Fauci said.

'So, this is an addendum and an addition to the physical separation,' he added, 'not a substitute for it.'

Tracking the spread of coronavirus

The WHO on Friday stood by its recommendation that only individuals who are sick or caring for someone who is sick should wear masks. But Ryan said the organization would support individual countries making their own recommendations.

'But that doesn't negate the need for hand-washing. It doesn't negate the need for physical distancing. It doesn't negate the need for people to stay at home if there is a stay-at-home order in place,' he said.

New York City's EMTs face tough decisions

In New York, the hardest-hit part of the country, an influx of emergency medical facilities has been aimed at relieving an overwhelmed health system.

Those include the USNS Comfort, a Navy hospital ship that docked in New York Harbor to treat non-Covid-19 patients. But on Thursday night, reports emerged only 20 patients were on the ship, despite its 1,000-bed capacity. That number grew by two on Friday, a Navy official said.

As of Friday, the ship will take patients that are not showing symptoms of Covid-19 and do not have to have been tested, according to a FEMA fact sheet.

Previously patients had to have a negative test from their discharging hospital before being brought aboard.

Mayor Bill de Blasio told CNN's John Berman on Friday morning he had spoken to the Navy about the reports and said there was 'no question' that the number would grow.

'I don't have a doubt in my mind, the Comfort's going to be filled up soon,' the mayor said.

Meantime, a medical facility set up at Manhattan's Javits Convention Center will now treat Covid-19 patients -- a reversal from its initial purpose of treating non-coronavirus patients.

'As it turned out, we don't have non-Covid people to any great extent in the hospitals,' Cuomo said. 'Hospitals have now turned into, effectively, ICU hospitals for Covid patients, so we wanted to convert Javits from non-Covid to Covid.'

Meantime, new guidance offers a grim glimpse into New York City's dire circumstances.

New York City Emergency Medical Service (EMS) teams that cannot find or restart a pulse while administering CPR on adult cardiac arrest patients are instructed not to bring those patients to hospitals, according to a memo obtained by CNN and the chair of the regional emergency medical advisory committee familiar with the edict.

The new guidance, issued as a temporary change in response to the pandemic, is in place to help prevent the spread of the virus to EMS workers.

'In the event a resuscitation is terminated, and the body is in public view, the body can be left in the custody of NYPD,' the memo states.

The city's hospitals, struggling to respond to patients constantly streaming in, have said a shortage of personal protective equipment is putting the medical workers on the front lines at risk of contracting the virus.

One third-year resident there said she goes to work feeling 'like a sheep going to slaughter.'

'My colleagues and I are writing our last will and testament. I'm 28 years old,' Dr. Laura Ucik said. 'We fear that we may not survive this pandemic and yet we show up every day to this hospital to take care of our community. We're running out of (personal protective equipment), we're running out of pain medicine, we're running out of sedatives, we're running out of oxygen masks.'

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 503322

Reported Deaths: 10057
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34400541
DeSoto32318411
Hinds32074631
Jackson24551386
Rankin22103391
Lee15657235
Madison14662281
Jones13894243
Forrest13506253
Lauderdale12037318
Lowndes11091192
Lamar10531138
Pearl River9557238
Lafayette8581140
Hancock7751130
Washington7458161
Oktibbeha7152133
Monroe6796178
Warren6752176
Pontotoc6736104
Neshoba6656206
Panola6572131
Marshall6494135
Bolivar6331150
Union607794
Pike5849154
Alcorn5691102
Lincoln5468135
George502979
Scott474198
Tippah472481
Prentiss471582
Leflore4676144
Itawamba4651105
Tate4632111
Adams4617120
Copiah450092
Simpson4458116
Yazoo445388
Wayne440772
Covington429894
Sunflower4246105
Marion4236108
Coahoma4178108
Leake409888
Newton383179
Grenada3731108
Tishomingo361592
Stone360664
Jasper336565
Attala335290
Winston315391
Clay309077
Chickasaw302367
Clarke295894
Calhoun279947
Holmes268788
Smith266550
Yalobusha237247
Tallahatchie228752
Greene220649
Walthall219364
Lawrence213640
Perry206456
Amite206056
Webster203446
Noxubee186940
Montgomery179757
Jefferson Davis172243
Carroll169639
Tunica160139
Benton149439
Kemper142141
Choctaw134627
Claiborne132838
Humphreys129738
Franklin120728
Quitman106828
Wilkinson105139
Jefferson95934
Sharkey64220
Issaquena1937
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 821255

Reported Deaths: 15424
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1149051930
Mobile726651340
Madison52400699
Shelby37685350
Baldwin37285552
Tuscaloosa35147613
Montgomery34130740
Lee23556246
Calhoun22255490
Morgan21037378
Etowah19844500
Marshall18390304
Houston17406412
St. Clair16091339
Cullman15493293
Limestone15402199
Elmore15292286
Lauderdale14366295
Talladega13870283
DeKalb12670261
Walker11255370
Blount10227176
Autauga10061148
Jackson9909185
Coffee9215191
Dale8912186
Colbert8907201
Tallapoosa7103198
Escambia6782134
Covington6724183
Chilton6658162
Russell637659
Franklin5992105
Chambers5615142
Marion5016127
Dallas5013202
Pike4799106
Clarke477284
Geneva4577127
Winston4538103
Lawrence4352117
Bibb425686
Barbour358376
Marengo338390
Monroe332064
Randolph330264
Butler328596
Pickens317384
Henry313166
Hale311988
Cherokee303260
Fayette294580
Washington251651
Cleburne247960
Clay245568
Crenshaw245475
Macon235563
Lamar225747
Conecuh186654
Coosa180940
Lowndes175764
Wilcox169139
Bullock151844
Perry139240
Sumter133338
Greene126744
Choctaw88527
Out of AL00
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Columbus
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High pressure leaves our area overnight and allows room for some low pressure and a cold front to move into our area on Wednesday. This will bring some good chances for some rain and isolated thunderstorms into our area during later portions of our Wednesday.
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