Health officials are constantly updating their guidance regarding masks and other prevention strategies during this public health crisis.
The longer the pandemic goes on, the more they learn.
So everything is confusing enough already without Donald Trump tossing his personal speculations on top of science-backed advice.
None the less, Mr. President cannot help himself.
During a recent White House Press Briefing, one reporter asked President Donald Trump about masks, specifically if all Americans should wear them whenever leaving the house.
The question was NOT an invitation for Trump to give his meandering thoughts about masks and stuff. This was a chance for Trump to lay out the official, clear federal guidance regarding the wearing of masks by non-medical civilians.
Trump, in typical fashion, felt much more casual about the whole thing:
"If people wanted to wear [masks], they can. If people wanted to use scarves – which they have, many people have them – they can. In many cases the scarf is better. It's thicker. I mean if you can... depending on the material it's thicker."
Trump compares using scarves to masks when going outside during the pandemic: "In many cases the scarf is better.… https://t.co/55OAyiWsoM— The American Independent (@The American Independent) 1585868728.0
The President continued:
"I mean, one of the things that Dr Fauci told me today is we don't want them competing, we don't want everybody competing with the hospitals. We really need them. So you can use scarves. You can use something else over your face."
That reasoning does align with the CDC's advice.
But looking closely at the CDC page, it becomes clear that Trump left out a VERY important detail about universal face coverings of the cloth variety.
Cloth masks, as the guidance says, are effective for stopping the spread of the virus FROM YOU TO OTHERS, not the other way around. The CDC guidance does not say that wearing cloth face coverings will prevent you from catching the virus.
Trump's response did not clearly make that distinction. He basically said a mask is good, but a scarf is better.
Trump shouldn’t tell people that a scarf is better than a mask. Many scarves have porous fabric rendering them inef… https://t.co/SWXnNURR20— Eugene Gu, MD (@Eugene Gu, MD) 1585782842.0
To confused, worried Americans, that was not helpful. Many Americans watching assumed that he was advising how to avoid contracting the virus, rather than prevent its spread.
Alas, the daily White House Press Briefing muddied more waters than it cleared up.
The confusion prompted news outlets like CNN to put some time in to fact-checking Trump's scarf advice.
Fact-checking Trump's claim that scarves are better than masks youtu.be
Twitter offered a live illustration of the wild emotions set off by Trump's comment.
Some were silly, some were scared and some were angry.
@MSNBC Can someone suggest to the President he should wear a scarf over his mouth, hopefully one that is soundproof.— thomas lee (@thomas lee) 1585702619.0
@MSNBC This from the same guy who looked straight to a solar eclipse.— robsky (@robsky) 1585702720.0
@MSNBC How about a paper bag Don? Will a paper bag work? https://t.co/q3kvSynvOH— The Echo Chamber The Echo Chamber (@The Echo Chamber The Echo Chamber) 1585710813.0
@MSNBC This might work...said no one ever... https://t.co/eyLf3zi9CB— WitchDiva (@WitchDiva) 1585702813.0
@MSNBC https://t.co/kUQlekYIj6— Janet Allegrezza Wear a Mask! (@Janet Allegrezza Wear a Mask!) 1585704571.0
This was not the first and very likely will not be the last time that Trump's comments from the podium send Americans to the internet for fact checking and clarity.