White House coronavirus testing czar says there's no downside to wearing a mask

White House coronavirus testing czar says there's no downside to wearing a mask
© Reuters/Pool

The White House's coronavirus testing czar said Sunday that there is no downside to wearing a mask, pushing back on President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden says his faith is 'bedrock foundation of my life' after Trump claim Coronavirus talks on life support as parties dig in, pass blame Ohio governor tests negative in second coronavirus test MORE.

Adm. Brett Giroir, the assistant secretary for the Department of Health and Human Services, declined to say during an appearance on ABC's "This Week" whether there should be a nationwide mask mandate to stem the spread of coronavirus. But he added, "it's very important that, unless you're in a state that is really cold and the percent positives are very low and the cases are decreasing, it is really essential to wear a mask in public."

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Trump wore a mask in public for the first time on Saturday after refusing to do so for weeks and suggesting at one point that wearing a mask is a "double-edged sword."

That's not the case, Giroir said on Sunday.

"To the data we have right now, there's no downside to wearing a mask," he said. "I'm a pediatric ICU physician. I wore a mask 10 hours a day for many, many years, so we don't believe there's a downside to it."

He added that while there are "very select people who feel uncomfortable" in masks, the face coverings are only necessary when people are out in public and unable to social distance."

"If you're outside taking a walk and you're not close to someone, you don't need to wear a mask, so there is no medical reason, except for maybe one in a million, that people can't wear a mask according to the guidelines we have," he said.

Giroir also said about 90 percent of people in areas with high levels of virus transmission need to wear masks.

"We know that this will decrease your spread of particles to other people. It probably doesn't protect you so much, but it protects everyone around you. And the more data we get about potentially some aerosol spread, particularly in very closed spaces with poor ventilation, it's really essential to wear masks," he said.

"And for this to work, we have to have like 90 percent of people wearing a mask in public in the hot spot areas. If we don't have that, we will not get control of the virus."