The requirement that people wear a mask in a communal setting does not “deny people their freedom,” Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former Commissioner of President Donald Trump at the Food and Drug Administration, told CNBC on Friday.
Gottlieb served as head of the FDA under Trump from May 2017 to April 2019. His comments came after Trump said in an interview Wall street journal published Thursday that some Americans may wear masks to “signal his disapproval.”
Infectious disease specialists and health officials have repeatedly touted the role of masks in slowing down the spread of coronavirus, which can infect people from respiratory drops that are spewed out of their mouth and nose.
“I don’t think this is a political issue,” Gottlieb told CNBC’s Squawk Box. “Universal masking is one of the easiest interventions we can take that can probably reduce the likelihood that we will have another epidemic.”
Several studies in recent weeks, masks have indicated that they help prevent infection and slow down the overall spread of the virus. Health officials are increasingly applying masking recommendations or requirements to slow the spread. Earlier this month, the World Health Organization changed its stance on masks, saying the general public should wear face masks.
“We can do very few things to try to prevent a wider spread and yet another epidemic leading to the fall.” This is one of them, ”said Gottlieb. “I don’t think that asking them to wear a mask when they go to meetings will deprive people of their freedom and the right to choose.”
Several governors have renewed their position regarding masks this week, as new infections have grown mainly throughout the American south and west. On Thursday, California Governor Gavin Newsome issued an order requiring people to wear face masks in most rooms and outdoors when physical distance is not possible. Arizona state governor Doug Ducey changed his policy on Wednesday to allow city and local officials to set their own camouflage requirements. In Texas, Governor Greg Abbott allowed some cities, such as Austin, to demand a mask, threatened by a fine for non-compliance.
Wearing a mask, however, remains a controversial issue in the United States. Nebraska, Governor Pete Ricketts told the county governments earlier this week that he will abandon federal funds to help coronaviruses if they need masks in local government offices, Omaha World Herald first reported,
“I think you will see that people will begin to change their position on this issue,” Gottlieb said, adding that the requirement for people to wear a mask is less restrictive than keeping people at home at work. “We need to achieve the least intrusive things we can do. This is one of them. ”
Gottlieb also pointed to something like a silver lining, as infections across the country continue to grow. According to Gottlieb, as more people become infected with the virus, a smaller portion becomes seriously ill and dies.
“What we actually see, and I’m going to publish the data later today, this hospitalization rate as a percentage of the total number of cases actually decreases, and it seems that the mortality rate also,” he said, “And there are probably several reasons for this. ”
This is probably a sign that people at risk, including older people and people with concomitant illnesses, are better protected, which means staying at home, physically distance yourself from others and wear masks, Gottlieb said. He added that more people with a positive test result are younger and healthier people who are not hospitalized and do not die from Covid-19 at the same rate as older people.
“We are also doing the best job of saving life in the hospital, and we talked about this before, but it really will be significant in anticipation of the fall,” he said. “I think you will see that mortality rates will decrease if we can protect the health care system, and in these cities it will not be overloaded.”
Disclosure: Scott Gottlieb, CNBC Officer, Member of the Board of Directors of Pfizer, Genetic Testing Startup Tempus and the biotechnological company Illumin.