- US Surgeon General Jerome Adams said he does not support a nationwide mask mandate, believing that such a requirement would spark rebellion.
- While Adams wouldn’t say during an interview with NBC’s “Today” show whether he thought Americans should attend large-scale gatherings in celebration of the Fourth of July, he encouraged mask usage at them.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said the highest risk for COVID-19 transmission comes from larger gatherings.
- States and cities have started to mandate the wearing of facial coverings in public spaces as the US continues to see record increases in cases of the coronavirus.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
US Surgeon General Jerome Adams on Friday argued against a nationwide mask mandate amid record increases of the novel coronavirus in the United States, arguing that such a mandate would lead to rebellion.
“Here’s the challenge, if you make something mandatory, particularly for the younger age groups we are talking about, many of them will rebel and do the exact opposite,” Adams said during an interview on NBC’s “Today” show. “I think it’s more important from a health perspective we help people understand why these are important and we help them understand why they benefit from wearing them.”
Despite his lack of enthusiasm for a nationwide mandate, Adams advocated for the widespread adoption of masks as a tool to reduce asymptomatic spread, arguing things like college football couldn’t return in the fall without it.
“If you want prom next year, please wear a face covering, it could prevent asymptomatic spread and help us overcome this virus,” Adams said.
His recommendations come as facial coverings have grown into a political issue. Despite his public refusal to wear a face mask for months, President Trump on Wednesday said that he thought face masks were “good” and he was “all for” them.
Also during his Friday appearance on the NBC show, Adams would not say whether he believed people should attend large gatherings in celebration of Independence Day, which the president has encouraged.
“It’s not a yes or no,” Adams said in response to anchor Craig Melvin’s question about the president’s Friday evening event at Mount Rushmore and planned Saturday events in Washington DC. “Every single person has to make up their own mind.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has for months warned that large, in-person gatherings present the highest risk for COVID-19 transmission. Now, cases of the virus are on a record rise in the US. The nation reported approximately 50,000 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday — an all-time record.
“The most important thing I would say to people is, if you do go out to a gathering or in public, please wear a face covering,” Adams added. “As we talk about Fourth of July and Independence, it is important to understand that if we all wear these [masks] we will actually have more independence and more freedom.”
The president’s Friday night event in South Dakota did not require face masks. On June 20, the president resumed his large, in-person gatherings with his rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma at the BOK Center. Attendees also weren’t required to wear face masks, and Trump campaign staffers were recorded removing social distancing markings that had been installed by the venue. Tulsa officials said Thursday it’s too early to tell if the rally led to an increase in COVID-19 cases locally.
While face masks will be distributed at the DC fireworks show later Saturday, their usage will not be required.
While there has been no national mask mandate, many cities and states in US states have enacted rules that require residents to wear them in public places. Cleveland, Ohio, Mayor Frank Jackson, for example, on Friday signed an order declaring their usage mandatory in public places, Cleveland.com reported.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Friday enacted a statewide mask mandate in counties with more than 20 reported cases of the novel coronavirus. In the state of New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has required residents to wear masks in businesses and public spaces since April.
In Florida, which reported more than 11,000 new cases on Saturday, Gov. Ron DeSantis has continued to refuse calls for a statewide mask mandate, though most cities now require them and the state Department of Health has urged residents to wear them, as Fox 13 reported.
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