Americans should be careful to use face coverings, as they are a critical public health tool that can help protect the vulnerable from the coronavirus, but the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said he’s worried that the agency’s public health message isn’t getting through.
“We’re very concerned that our public health message isn’t resonating,” Director Dr. Robert Redfield said in a Thursday (June 4) House Appropriations Committee hearing, noting that the organization is still working on reaching different groups with the message. “We will continue to try to message as well we can,” he said.
He said the CDC will still encourage people who can ask for or require masks in their environments to continue to do so.
“We do think this is an important public health tool,” he said, and the agency will “try to figure out how to get more and more people to embrace it.”
As it stands, most states are mandating the use of facial coverings for citizens to move about freely in the physical world — especially when indoors with people they don’t know. And brands such as Madewell, Brooks Brothers and Gap, among others are offering their own in-house facial coverings.
In his testimony, Redfield said he doesn’t see anybody without a mask when he goes home to the Baltimore area. But when he travels around Washington, D.C., many times he sees many people without masks.
Redfield also said that social distancing strategies need to be perfected as they will be needed as “our major defense again in October, November and December.”
The official also noted that only approximately 47 percent of the American public takes advantage of the flu vaccine. He said the CDC is hoping the American people will see that the flu vaccine is “one major way they can help this nation get through this fall.”
In terms of a COVID-19 vaccine, PYMNTS data found that almost half — or 49 percent — of consumers report that a vaccine will provide them with the confidence to restart their normal activities. And 45 percent of consumers now expect the pandemic to last six months or longer, which marks an increase from 31 percent on March 17.
Redfield has estimated that a workforce of contact tracers of between 30,000 and 100,000 people may be needed.
“It is sizable,” he said during the hearing, but he noted that “we won’t really know until we work state by state.”
“We really have to get this built, and we have to get it built between now and September and get these public health workforces up,” Redfield said.
Some states might need 500 people working as contact tracers, while other states might require 5,000 individuals.
“We’re in the process of doing that state by state by state to help them understand what is that workforce they need,” he said.