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Pentagon chief says military moving toward face coverings

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Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Sunday that the military will issue guidance on face coverings for troops after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended people cover their faces when out in public to stem the spread of coronavirus.

ABC’s George Stephanopoulos asked Esper on “This Week” whether he expects all service members to follow the new CDC guidelines.

“We will have a directive on that coming out today,” he said, adding “We are going to move toward face coverings.”

The Pentagon chief also said another priority, in addition to the protection of troops, is to continue to conduct the country’s national security missions.

“And to do that, we can’t always do six feet distancing whether you’re in an attack submarine, a bomber, in a tank, so we have to take other measures,” he said. 

{mosads}“But we ought to provide them all the guidance they need to adjust it in whatever’s unique to their situation, their circumstance or the mission set,” he added. 

President Trump announced the new CDC recommendations Friday, repeatedly saying it is “voluntary.”

“You can do it. You don’t have to do it. I’m choosing not to do it, but some people may want to do it, and that’s OK,” he said.

The recommendations are a backtrack from the CDC’s earlier suggestion that healthy people should not use masks because it would not protect them from contracting the coronavirus. 

But now, the CDC says wearing a face covering can prevent asymptomatic people from unknowingly spreading the disease, adding that people should not purchase the surgical masks or N95 respirators needed by medical professionals. Officials also stressed the recommendation was to be used in addition to, not instead of, social distancing guidelines. 

Tags asymptomatic CDC Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Coronavirus COVID-19 Department of Defense Donald Trump face coverings George Stephanopoulos Mark Esper Military Pentagon Sunday shows

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