Fauci never told Trump to wear a mask during the coronavirus pandemic.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, a member of the White House coronavirus task force, says he never told President Trump to wear a mask during the coronavirus pandemic.

“I have not directly recommended to the president that he wear a mask,” the infectious disease expert testified Tuesday before the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

However, Fauci said the masks are effective both in limiting the spread of the virus and in protecting people from contracting COVID-19, a significant update to the federal guidance on masks.

“Although we don’t know the exact percentage, we can very clearly say that wearing a mask is definitely helpful in preventing acquisition and transmission,” Fauci said.

“Everyone agrees in the public health sector that wearing masks is beneficial,” he added. “Use it and don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. It is always better to have a mask on than not to have it on, both for acquisition and transmission. ”

Fauci’s comments deviate significantly from previous statements by federal health officials, who originally said the masks were useless to protect ordinary people from the coronavirus.

At the beginning of the pandemic, Surgeon General Jerome Adams implored the public in a February 29 tweet not to buy masks because “they are NOT effective in preventing the general public from contracting #Coronavirus.”

Officials later recommended masks, citing evidence of significant asymptomatic transmission of the virus, but still insisted that there was no evidence that the masks protected people from contracting the virus.

“Once we saw that asymptomatic spread, we said, ‘Well, the masks are still not effective from our point of view to prevent you from contracting coronavirus in a significant way, but … you use your mask to protect me,” Adams said in a White House press conference on April 22.

Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, offered a mask guide in response to questions from Representative Paul Tonko (D-NY), who represents Albany.

Tonko repeatedly asked about President Trump’s aversion to wearing a mask. Fauci deftly avoided denouncing Trump, but said he personally wears a mask, in part, to set an example for the public.