Two mayors in Florida this week told people in their counties that they should wear masks while at home, an unusual recommendation that stands out even among strict mask requirements amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Even as the number of CCP virus cases in his city remains flat, citizens should take extreme measures to try to curb further spread of the new illness, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez told reporters on Thursday.
"We've got to start changing our messaging. Our messaging has always been, if you're outside, or if you're indoors, you need to wear a mask, you need to socially distance," the Republican said.
"I would tell our residents—and this is voluntary, this is not something that we can mandate—that they should consider, particularly if they have a multigenerational household, wearing masks indoors at times with their multigenerational residents and also respecting social distance when they’re at home."
"Because, again, we're seeing the largest center of spread being our house [sic]," Suarez said.
Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez, a Democrat, made a similar case during a separate briefing on Thursday.
People should wear masks "even inside the house, even inside your home."
"Because we have such a high level of positivity rate right here in Miami-Dade, you also need to start thinking about maintaining a distance also from your loved ones for a while,” Gimenez said.
The mayor said he realized doing so would be a sacrifice.
"But do so because, again, just because, again, just because it’s your son or your daughter or your cousin or your mother or your father, doesn’t mean they don’t have COVID," he said.
No federal public health officials and few officials anywhere in the country have recommended people wear masks inside their own homes. Federal guidance on social distancing, or maintaining six feet from others, explicitly makes clear that people don't need to social distance from people they live with.
A spokesman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, asked whether the agency recommends people wear masks inside their homes, said in an emailed statement: "To reduce the spread of COVID-19, CDC recommends that people wear cloth face coverings in public settings when around people outside of their household, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain."
Surgeon General Jerome Adams, who appeared at the briefing with Gimenez, made no mention of wearing a covering inside private homes.
Many health officials say wearing masks can cut down on the spread of the virus but critics say that messaging is undercut by months of warning against wearing masks.