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'We could drive this epidemic to the ground in 4-6 weeks if everyone wore masks,' says CDC director

Dr. Robert Redfield urged people to wear masks with the promise that the pandemic could be brought under control in just six weeks if everyone wore a mask.

'We could drive this epidemic to the ground in 4-6 weeks if everyone wore masks,' says CDC director
Cover Image Source: CDC Director Dr. Robert R. Redfield at a Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Subcommittee hearing on July 2, 2020, in Washington, DC. (Photo by Graeme Jennings-Pool/Getty Images)

Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said on Monday that "the most powerful weapon we have" against the novel coronavirus is wearing face coverings, washing hands, and "being smart about social distancing." Speaking at a press conference in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, Redfield urged people to wear masks with the promise that the pandemic could be brought under control in just six weeks if everyone wore a mask. "If all of us would put on a face-covering now for the next four weeks, six weeks, we could drive this epidemic to the ground," he said, reports PEOPLE.



 

Redfield emphasized the importance of wearing masks by pointing out that it has been scientifically proven to make a difference in reducing the spread of COVID-19. "We are not defenseless against this virus. We actually have one of the most powerful weapons you could ask for," he said. "The most powerful weapon we have that I know of is wearing face coverings. The most important thing that I could ask the American public to do is to fully embrace face coverings, to fully embrace careful hand hygiene, and to fully embrace social distancing."



 

According to ABC News, the 69-year-old reiterated his message on Tuesday during an interview with the Journal of the American Medical Association's Dr. Howard Bauchner. "If we all rigorously did this, we could really bring this outbreak back to where it needs to be," he said. "I really do believe if the American public all embraced masking now and we really did it, you know, rigorously ... I think if we can get everybody to wear a mask right now, I really do think over the next four to six, eight weeks, we can bring this epidemic under control."



 

The CDC director stressed that wearing a mask is a "personal responsibility" for everyone as it is "not a political issue -- it is a public health issue." Redfield also praised President Donald Trump for wearing a face mask for the first time in public over the weekend, saying: "I'm glad to see the President wear a mask this week and the vice president. We need them to set the example." Meanwhile, speaking of the upcoming fall and winter—when flu season begins—he expressed concern about the co-occurrence of COVID and influenza.



 

"I do think the fall and the winter of 2020 and 2021 are going to be probably one of the most difficult times... in American public health because of... the co-occurrence of COVID and influenza," he said. Redfield went on to stress the importance of getting the flu vaccine amid the pandemic "because I think those two respiratory pathogens hitting this at the same time do have the potential to stress our health system."



 

Meanwhile, according to WCNC, during his visit to Mecklenburg County on Monday, Redfield supported the decision to send children back to school this fall. "Seven million children in this nation get their mental health assistance in school. Many students get their breakfast and lunch in school," he said. "Schools are really important for mandatory reporting of child abuse or sexual abuse. Obviously, the socialization that occurs in schools." Redfield said that the Novel Coronavirus has caused few deaths in children and that ensuring the safety of teachers who may be vulnerable is key to reopening schools.



 

"My analysis of this on the public health scale is way in favor of reopening schools face to face and these kids can get the education they deserve," he said. Mecklenburg County Health Director Gibbie Harris backed Redfield's assessment, citing the wellbeing of children as the reason for sending them back to classrooms. "I'm totally in support of what Dr. Redfield has just said. We are concerned about the health and welfare of our children who don't go back to school. I do believe there's real reason for them to be in school," said Harris, adding that the community will need to step up to make this possible.



 

"We need everyone to help us get our children back in school, whether you have children or not," he said. "Again, we want to appeal to our community to do the things you know you need to do. Wearing a mask, washing your hands, and social distancing." 



 

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