The change had been forecast on Tuesday by Dr. Anthony Fauci.
Updated 8:15 p.m. April 3
Editor's Note: After this story was published, the CDC did, as was predicted, change its recommendations. The sidebar below contains the update, which is that you should cover your nose and mouth with a cloth face cover when around others. The original story is below:
If you have COVID-19, you should wear a mask to prevent droplets from spreading to others. For others, wearing a cloth or surgical masks won't prevent you from getting the disease. So if you're healthy, should you wear a mask anyway? Two local health experts recently weighed in.
Dr. Stephen Bickel, the medical director for Flagler County’s office of the Florida Department of Health, said during an interview on the morning of April 3, on WNZF’s “Free For All Friday,” that masks are not necessary for protecting yourself from getting COVID-19.
That echoes published guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Bickel did say, however, that a percentage of the population could have COVID-19 and not know it. What if there are 20-30 such people in Flagler County, to go along with the 27 who have been diagnosed with the disease? he mused.
On the afternoon of April 3, during a Facebook Live press conference, DOH-Flagler Administrator Bob Snyder went one step further: “If you are fortunate enough to have a mask, wear it.”
Snyder added that if you don’t have a mask, you can use a scarf or a bandana, considering that supplies of medical masks are short.
That echoes sentiments of some experts who believe the CDC guidelines will be reconsidered.
No need for a mask ...
COVID-19 is spread through droplets. "You don’t inhale this," Bickel said. "It’s not aerosol. So the idea that you’re going to wear a mask and stop yourself from inhaling this — that’s not founded in biology.”
However, he said, “the mask is a signal that you’re paying attention and that you’re not in a typical state of affairs — that you’re in this different world now,” he said. “That could be a positive effect.” It could also remind someone not to touch his or her face.
If you’re walking around a grocery store, it’s not necessary to wear a mask, Bickel said.
On "Free For All Friday," Sheriff Rick Staly asked for Bickel's advice about what his deputies should do about masks, and Bickel reiterated that if they aren't in close contact with people, masks aren't necessary.
“We have 25 (cases) into 110,000 people, so the likelihood of a random encounter is very small,” Bickel said, acknowledging that the risk was not zero. Bickel said, “The risk is so small I just don’t think it’s necessary” for deputies to wear masks while on regular patrol.
... But that could change
Snyder, in the April 3 press conference conducted by Flagler County government, pointed out that the president’s top health adviser, Dr. Anthony Fauci, who recently predicted there could be 100,000-240,000 COVID-19 deaths nationwide before the crisis is over, is considering a recommendation that cloth masks be worn by everyone.
“If you are fortunate enough to have a mask, wear it,” Snyder said. He compared the outbreak to a war.
Fauci told CNN on March 31: "The idea of getting a much more broad communitywide use of masks outside of the health care setting is under very active discussion at the Task Force. The CDC group is looking at that very carefully."
Fauci was not alone. CDC Director Robert Redfield told NPR that the idea is being "aggressively reviewed."