CDC: We could be wearing masks for another year

FOX 5 is getting your questions answered in a one-on-one interview with the CDC.

Dr. Jay Butler is the COVID-19 response incident manager for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We asked him how long face mask requirements could be in place.

“It’s going to depend on how the pandemic plays out and how many people are potentially infected and infectious at any given time,” said Butler.

“Do you think until there’s a vaccine? Do you think there could be another year where this is commonplace?” asked FOX 5’s Lindsay Watts.

“It very well could be,” said Butler.

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When asked why CDC and other federal officials initially advised against wearing masks, Butler said the original recommendations for masks were focused on the protection of the wearer.

He said wearing a mask is not about protecting yourself, but protecting others, and CDC changed course as it became clear you can have this virus, but no symptoms and potentially spread it to others.

(Photo by Luis Gutierrez Norte Photo/Getty Images)

FOX 5 also asked whether all schools should reopen in the fall.

”That’s a decision that really needs to be made at the local level depending on the amount of disease activity at that time,”
Butler said.

New CDC guidelines just released say school staff and students should be wearing masks, that students’ desks should be at least six feet apart and groups of students should ideally stay together and with the same staff and groups shouldn’t be mixed. If possible, schools should do daily temperature checks, stagger arrival times and cancel field trips.

This is guidance, not federal mandate, and Butler emphasized that decisions will be made at the local level.

The CDC made headlines Wednesday for adjusting its website to say coronavirus "does not spread easily" on surfaces or objects.

While the virus primarily spreads person-to-person and not person-to-object-to-person, Butler said it is possible for the virus to live minutes or even hours on hard surfaces.

“That’s why it’s important to be able to disinfect surfaces, clean services and also the importance of hand hygiene,” he said.

When asked about the practice of disinfecting groceries before bringing them in the house, Butler said it is not something that he does himself.