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President Donald Trump’s coronavirus testing chief says 90% of people should wear masks in hotspots, or ‘we won’t get control of the virus’

Adm. Brett Giroir (The White House/Flickr)

Adm. Brett Giroir, a pediatrician and the Department of Health and Human Services’ coronavirus testing chief, argued on Sunday that more Americans must wear masks in public or else the nation — which has seen COVID-19 cases spike in the South and West — will not get the outbreak under control.

“Everybody’s got to do their part,” Giroir said on ABC News’ “This Week.” “You’ve got to stop the bars. You’ve got to decrease restaurant capacity. You’ve got to physically distance. We have to have people wearing masks in public — it’s absolutely essential. And you’ve got to use good hand hygiene.”

Giroir said unless you live in a state where the percentage of COVID-19 cases is “very low, it’s really essential to wear a mask in public.”

He noted that while it “doesn’t protect you so much,” it protects others by decreasing “your spread of particles to other people,” particularly in very closed spaces with poor ventilation.

“For this to work, we have to have like 90% of people wearing a mask in public in the hotspot areas,” Giroir said. “If we don’t have that, we will not get control of the virus.”

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Giroir’s comments come as several states have set new records for the highest day-over-day increases in new coronavirus cases.

They also come as other Trump administration officials continue to urge schools nationwide to fully reopen in the fall, even as public health experts warn that the risks of coronavirus spreading are higher in fully open conditions.

On Saturday, President Donald Trump wore a mask in public for the first time during the pandemic, when he visited Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Saturday.

Giroir made clear “There’s no downside to wearing a mask,” when asked about Trump’s previous remark that masks are a “double-edged sword.”

Florida on Sunday reported more than 15,000 new coronavirus cases, the highest single-day increase of any state since the pandemic began, MSNBC reported. On Saturday, Fox News reported that nearly 500 people died after contracting coronavirus in the Sunshine State last week, also a new record.

More than 3.2 million Americans have tested positive for the disease and nearly 135,000 have died, according to Johns Hopkins University. Nearly 1 million Americans have recovered.

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© 2020 MassLive.com