Fauci says it may be time for a widespread mask mandate

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said it is a “great idea” for there to be a uniform mask mandate, as US coronavirus cases surged on Friday.

Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, told CNN’s Erin Burnett, “If people are not wearing masks, well then maybe we should be mandating it.”

During the interview, Fauci acknowledged some might say it would be hard to enforce the mandate.

“But if everyone agrees that this is something that’s important and they mandated it and everybody pulls together and say, ‘We’re going to mandate it but let’s just do it,’ I think that it would be a great idea to have everybody do it uniformly,” he said to Burnett.

On Friday, US confirmed coronavirus cases reached a record high for a single day with more than 83,000 infections.

President Trump has minimized the severity of the recent spike in cases, and said on Twitter that the increase is due to testing being “way up.” Experts have cautioned about how an increase in cases could happen in the fall.

Democratic challenger and former vice president Joe Biden said on Friday he would push for national mask use. In his plan, he would talk to governors to make mask wearing mandatory in their states, and if they refuse, then he would go to mayors and county executives.

Lauren Booker can be reached at [email protected]

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‘Widespread growth’ of coronavirus epidemic as R rate remains as high as 1.5

A person wearing a protective mask walks past a covid warning sign as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in Liverpool, Britain October 15, 2020. REUTERS/Phil Noble
Liverpool became the first city to be graded as Tier 3 – Very High – this week due to the rapid increase in coronavirus infections in the city (REUTERS/Phil Noble)

The reproduction rate of coronavirus in the UK is 1.3 to 1.5, meaning there is still “widespread growth” across the country.

Last week the figure was given as 1.2 to 1.5.

Experts on the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) published the latest figures on Friday.

A statement from SAGE said: “It is SAGE’s expert view… that this week’s estimates are reliable, and that there is still widespread growth of the epidemic across the country.

“SAGE is confident that the transmission is not slowing. There is no clear evidence that the epidemic’s trajectory has changed in the past month. 

Rate of coronavirus infection in England as of 16 October (gov.uk)
Rate of coronavirus infection in England as of 16 October (gov.uk)

“While the R value remains above 1.0, infections will continue to grow at an exponential rate. This is currently the case for every region of England and all have positive growth rates, reflecting increases in the number of new infections across the country.”

Watch: Coronavirus: what is the R0 reproduction rate?

The growth rate is between +4% and +7% meaning the number of new infections is growing by 4% to 7% every day, a slight decrease from 4% to 9% last week.

The data comes after a new three-tier system was introduced in England to classify areas according to COVID-19 infection risk.

The Liverpool City region became the first to enter the ‘very high’ Tier 3 band on Wednesday, with local leaders in Manchester becoming embroiled in a bitter battle with government to resist the city and surrounding areas also being upgraded from Tier 2 to Tier 3.

In these areas the R rate has remained at a similar level to the previous week, but the figures for the south west of England are now the highest in the country, with an R rate of 1.3 to 1.6 and a growth rate of 6% to 10%.

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during a virtual press conference inside 10 Downing Street in central London on October 12, 2020, after announcing a new COVID-19 alert system. - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday ordered pubs in Liverpool to shut as part of a new strategy to tackle a surge in coronavirus cases, as staff at three field hospitals across the country were told to prepare for a wave of admissions. The northwest English city is the first to be placed at "very high risk" under a new three-tiered system designed to bring order what has become a complex web of local restrictions. (Photo by TOBY MELVILLE / POOL / AFP) (Photo by TOBY MELVILLE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Boris Johnson has insisted that local lockdowns can be effective and will help avoid a second nationwide lockdown (Toby Melville / Pool / AFP via Getty Images)

Boris Johnson has said his “whack-a-mole” strategy of localised lockdowns could help prevent another nationwide lockdown, but scientific advisors to the government have questioned whether the localised tier-system could have come too late.

Scientific advisor Graham Medley, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said of the likelihood of success of local lockdown measures: “I really hope that they are [successful] but the general feeling is that they might not be, that we might have to have much more of an approach and that this three week delay between the impact of interventions and it affecting hospitalisations means we are already going to be close to where we were in April in two or three weeks time.”

Medley was speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme ahead of an interview with Dominic

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