Harvard’s Dr. Ashish Jha believes there should be a national mask policy

A Harvard professor believes that wearing a mask in public should be necessary “across the country” during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Dr. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, spoke about the lack of a national mask policy during an appearance on the “Today” show.

“We are in the middle of a pandemic, and people want to be free not to wear masks,” said Jha. “Now I understand, sometimes masks can be a little awkward. But the bottom line is that we know that masks reduce infections and save lives. And just as I can’t walk into a retail store and light a cigarette, neither should I be able to walk into a retail store without wearing a mask.

“These are basic public health measures that I think should be implemented across the country,” Jha continued. “It is not that inconvenient. And if it helps stay open and prevent our hospitals from being overwhelmed, I think it’s worth the cost. ”

Currently, there is no national policy requiring the use of face masks or covers in public, although in April the CDC issued a “recommendation” to do so.

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker issued an executive order in May requiring residents to wear masks in public, but only “when [residents] he cannot distance himself socially from others. “

The problem of whether residents wear masks has been compounded by state-by-state reopening across the country, allowing larger groups of people to meet again in businesses and public places.

While Massachusetts reportedly has the lowest transmission rate in the country, Jha noted that many states may have reopened prematurely.

“About a month and a half ago, the president’s own workforce set criteria for what states should use before opening,” Jha explained. “A good number of states, many of the places where we see spikes ignored those criteria and were opened when the case numbers were high and not down. And so, in many ways, this was expected. And as annoying as it is to see these cases, it’s not surprising.

“The question before us is what are we going to do to reduce these peaks so that our hospitals are not overwhelmed and we are not forced to close again,” added Jha. “That is what we all want to try and avoid. And I’m concerned that we don’t take it seriously enough.

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