US surgeon general explains why he’s dramatically changed his position on wearing masks

Dr. Jerome Adams talks about wearing masks during holiday weekend

DETROIT – There’s widespread agreement among experts in Michigan and throughout the country that wearing masks is an important way to slow the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), but that was not always the case.

Friday morning on the “TODAY Show,” surgeon general Dr. Jerome Adams talked about staying safe during the Fourth of July weekend, telling everyone that if they’re planning to go somewhere to celebrate, they should wear a mask.

Adams wasn’t always a mask supporter.

“One of the things they shouldn’t be doing, the general public, is going out and buying masks,” Adams said in March.

But earlier this week, Adams said, “Please, please wear a face covering when you go out.”

So what’s changed? Adams said we didn’t realize in March how easily the virus could spread from asymptomatic people.

“It’s important for people to understand that we now know 40%-50% of cases of coronavirus are spread asymptomatically, and that’s different than any other coronavirus we’ve experienced before,” Adams said. “It means you can have no symptoms -- no cough, no fever -- and still be someone who is spreading the disease.”

With cases surging in the U.S. and more young people testing positive for COVID-19, Adams made a special appeal to them.

“If you want college football in the fall, young people, please wear a face covering,” Adams said. “If you want prom next year, please wear a face covering. It can help prevent asymptomatic spread and help us overcome this virus.”

The nation is still trying to decide how to celebrate the holiday weekend.

“The most important thing I would say to people is if you do go out to a gathering or in public, please wear a face covering,” Adams said. “As we talk about Fourth of July and independence, it’s important to understand if we all wear these, we will actually have more independence and more freedom because more places will be able to stay open. We’ll have less spread of the disease.”

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