Surgeon general: Stop buying masks

Surgeon General Jerome Adams is warning Americans to stop buying medical masks, saying they aren't effective in preventing the general public from catching coronavirus and are needed for medical professionals.

“Seriously people- STOP BUYING MASKS!” Adams tweeted Saturday.

“They are NOT effective in preventing general public from catching #Coronavirus, but if healthcare providers can’t get them to care for sick patients, it puts them and our communities at risk!” he added.

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Adams in his post linked to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines for preventing and treating the infection. The CDC does not recommend that healthy people wear medical masks to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including coronavirus. It added that people who show COVID-19 symptoms should wear masks to help prevent the spread of the disease. The CDC also said medical masks are "crucial" for health workers and people who are taking care of someone at home or in a health care facility.

Adams said in another tweet that the "best way to protect yourself and your community is with everyday preventive actions, like staying home when you are sick and washing hands with soap and water, to help slow the spread of respiratory illness."

"Get your #FluShot- fewer flu patients = more resources for #COVID19," he added.

The first U.S. death from the coronavirus, which has sickened more than 86,000 people worldwide, was announced by health officials in Washington state on Saturday. Officials have also announced four cases with unknown origins in the U.S., raising the possibility that the virus is spreading among the general public in some areas. The CDC said there are now 71 coronavirus cases in the U.S.