Controversy on the subject of the masses wearing facemasks. On February 29th, US Surgeon General told everyone to stop buying masks so healthcare professionals would not experience shortages. He tweeted that masks “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!” Most people could see the contradiction – if face masks aren’t ipso facto protective for me, why are they protective for thee? This only makes sense if you count this advice (and this advice, also, from the cdc – scroll until you get to the facemask graphic) as meta-triage. Maybe it made sense with a mask shortage, but it sure seemed as if YOU didn’t matter.
However, other government agencies were allowing large gatherings at the same time (Mardi Gras was held in New Orleans on February 25th). It’s a bad look, and an example of how governments behave when there are shortages. It’s a good thing we are ramping up production of masks (see here).
Steve Mnuchin, the most active and visible Treasury Secretary I’ve seen in my lifetime, has a good interview on Fox News. Takeaways: the virus must be killed before the government reopens the economy (it would be a disaster to prematurely reopen and allow the virus to get a second wind – which would require an unsustainable second shutdown). He also predicted that the economy would rebound in a big way. I hope both takeaways are true … that we kill it good and dead and then reopen for a big economic summer and fall.