Fact Check: CDC Is NOT Scheduled To Recommend Masks For Everyday Life

Fact Check

  • by: Jessica Ravitz

STORY UPDATED: check for updates below.

Fact Check: CDC Is NOT Scheduled To Recommend Masks For Everyday Life Too early

Is the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention planning, in the next 10 days, to change guidance and advise Americans to wear masks in everyday life? No, that's not true: The federal agency tells Lead Stories that no changes to guidance are scheduled or imminent.

The claim originated in a tweet published by Dr. Matt McCarthy on March 28, 2020, (archived here) which read:

"NEW: CDC guidance on masks expected to change in next 10 days. Americans will be advised to wear masks in everyday life. Current recommendation is for high-risk groups only."

Users on social media saw this:

Matt McCarthy on Twitter

"NEW: CDC guidance on masks expected to change in next 10 days. Americans will be advised to wear masks in everyday life. Current recommendation is for high-risk groups only."

McCarthy is an associate professor at Weill Cornell Medicine, a staff physician at NewYork-Presbyterian and the author of a few books, including, "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic." His tweet announcing this supposed forthcoming change gained immediate notice and social media buzz.

Raw Story published a piece, based on McCarthy's tweet, with this headline: "CDC to recommend all American wear protective masks in everyday life: report (archived here)." The outlet later changed its headline and story to say that the CDC denied the report.

The story began this way:

On Saturday, Weill Cornell's Dr. Matt McCarthy reported that the Centers for Disease Control will revise their recommendations on protective masks.

In the next ten days, the CDC guidelines will reportedly change to advising Americans to wear masks "in everyday life." This contrasts with the current guidelines, which only recommend masks for high-risk groups like health care workers.

Inquisitr, too, shared McCarthy's news, posting a story with this headline: "CDC Expected To Issue New Guidance Suggesting All Americans Wear Masks in Everyday Life, Medical Author Claims."

The CDC, however, posted a reply to McCarthy, saying, "CDC does not have updated guidance scheduled to come out on this topic. See current CDC guidance regarding the use of facemasks."

Here's how the CDC response appeared on social media:

A spokesperson for the CDC, who did not want to be named, called Lead Stories and shared this perspective when asked if the agency had plans underway to change mask-wearing guidance:

We don't. Nothing is imminent. But as more data becomes available to us, if we need to make changes to the current guidance, we will.

Lead Stories tried to reach McCarthy, through numerous avenues, in an effort to find out where he got his information. At the time of publication, we had not gotten a response. If we do hear back from him, we will update this story.

In the meantime, the CDC recommends sticking to current guidelines about when to wear facemasks, as they are not scheduled to change and recognize the need to preserve supplies for healthcare workers as much as necessary.

  • If you are sick: You should wear a facemask, if available, when you are around other people (including before you enter a healthcare provider's office).
  • If you are caring for others: If the person who is sick is not able to wear a facemask (for example, because it causes trouble breathing), then as their caregiver, you should wear a facemask when in the same room with them. Visitors, other than caregivers, are not recommended.
  • Note: During a public health emergency, facemasks may be reserved for healthcare workers. You may need to improvise a facemask using a scarf or bandana.

We wrote about twitter.com before. Here are our most recent articles that mention the site:


  • 2020-04-03T22:11:18Z 2020-04-03T22:11:18Z
    After this article was published, President Trump said on April 3, 2020, that the CDC would now recommend that people wear cloth or fabric face masks. Trump said the guidance was voluntary. According to The New York Times, Trump said, “You can do it. You don’t have to do it. I’m choosing not to do it. It’s only a recommendation.” This fact check correctly attributed to the CDC that it did not have any plans at the time to change its guidance, but that has now changed.

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Lead Stories is working with the CoronaVirusFacts/DatosCoronaVirus Alliance, a coalition of more than 100 fact-checkers who are fighting misinformation related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about the alliance here.

  Jessica Ravitz

Jessica Ravitz, a staff writer and fact-checker for Lead Stories, is a former senior writer at CNN Digital. For more than a decade, she wrote longform narratives and profiles on topics ranging from gun violence, sexual assault and suicide to women’s health, spirituality and race.


Read more about or contact Jessica Ravitz

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