President Trump says government recommends Americans wear masks outside to protect against coronavirus

US President Donald Trump said at his daily White House briefing on Friday that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that Americans use basic “nonmedical, cloth” masks.

“You can do it. You don’t have to do it. I’m choosing not to do it,” Mr. Trump said. “It’s only a recommendation.”

He stressed that medical masks should be reserved for health care workers and that masks are not a substitute for social distancing.

The Trump administration had been deeply divided about whether to urge all Americans to wear masks when they leave their homes, with White House advisers and public health officials engaged in a debate that had stalled a public announcement that using them could prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

The deliberations, playing out as local officials in cities including Los Angeles and New York have counseled residents to begin covering their faces, reflect how health experts and government officials are trying to keep pace with the evolving science and public opinion surrounding a novel virus.

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